Saturday, May 5, 2012

1st Oil Crisis in 1973 and the Push for Nuclear in Japan

Chugoku Shinbun has the original article on the day when the last operating nuclear reactor at Tomari Nuclear Power Plant in Hokkaido went offline for scheduled maintenance.

In the article, the paper notes (5/6/2012):


It was 1966 that Tokai Nuclear Power Plant by Japan Atomic Power Company started commercial operation. The last time all nuclear reactors in Japan stopped was in 1970, and there were only two commercial nuclear reactors.


Through the oil crises in the 1970s, KEPCO [Kansai Electric] and TEPCO competed with each other to build nuclear power plants. With the support from the national government, other electric companies followed suit. In the 1990s, all 9 electric companies in Japan (except for Okinawa Electric) had nuclear power plants, and that has remained that way to this day.


In the fiscal 2010, nuclear power plants in Japan supplied 26.4% of total electricity. Right before the March 11, 2011 disaster, more than 30 reactors were in operation [out of 54 at that time].

The first oil crisis was in 1973-1974 due to the Arab oil embargo in response to the 4th Arab-Israeli War. The second oil crisis was in 1979 after the Iranian Revolution.

Japan was particularly hit hard by the first oil crisis. The inflation soared in 1974 to 23% annually, and to counter the inflation the government raised the short-term interest rate to nearly 10%. The post-war high growth era ended that year when the GDP growth went negative. Energy costs skyrocketed, as Japan depended on the oil from the Middle East.

Along came the nuclear power. Too good to be true, in retrospect, but it sure looked very attractive - energy source that was not hydrocarbon from the Middle East.

Here's the list of nuclear reactors that were built after the first oil crisis of 1973/4. The number in parenthesis indicates the year in which the construction of the reactor started. All over Japan, from Tohoku to Kyushu:

Fukushima II (Daini) Nuclear Power Plant: Reactor 1 (1975), Reactor 2 (1979) - Fukushima Prefecture

Tokai II Nuclear Power Plant (1973) - Ibaraki Prefecture

Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant: Reactor 1 (1978) - Niigata Prefecture

Hamaoka Nuclear Power Plant: Reactor 2 (1974) - Shizuoka Prefecture

Mihama Nuclear Power Plant: Reactor 3 - Fukui Prefecture

Ooi Nuclear Power Plant: Reactor 1, Reactor 2 - Fukui Prefecture

Ikata Nuclear Power Plant: Reactor 1 (1973), Reactor 2 (1978) - Ehime Prefecture

Genkai Nuclear Power Plant: Reactor 2 (late 1970s) - Saga Prefecture

By the way, the very first reactor at Tokai Nuclear Power Plant was a graphite-moderated gas-cooled reactor from the United Kingdom, modified in Japan to enhance seismic safety.


Anonymous said...

Smart grid was not available at the time these first plants were built. Now that we can do smart grid, we have the technology to make small, distributed generation actually work.

Time for an upgrade of the grid Japan. That is the energy policy of the future. DPJ should get with it NOW.

There's no future in nuclear power. None. Not for anyone.

Anonymous said...

One thing is for sure, those nuke plants will be back on line again in the near future... the ruling elite here are as evil as it gets and there is big money in nuclear and they wont give that up.... the population are too weak to rise up aginst them and the media will tow the line, so its a lost cause unfortunately..

Stock said...

"lost cause" methinks not

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

Well, I think most Japanese thought their country was a lost cause in 1974. Or in 1945. Or in 1868 (when the Tokugawa Shogunate went down).

Not sure about smart grid though.

Anonymous said...

Maybe a bit OT here, but a nice song from Kraftwerk (live 2002 in Japan).

To be up to date, they only need to exchange Hiroshima with Fukoshima (same number of syllables, so easily possible).

Anonymous said...

So nice to have Ultraman back on the day when the last reactor here in Japan is shut down. Not sure where we go from here, but it`s a useful starting point. We continue to really appreciate your work. As witness Professor Koide`s thoughts as discussed in your post below, sometimes it seems like both sides of the argument have lost their minds, so having someone who consistently makes the effort to separate sense from nonsense is every so valuable to those of us still trying to live and raise a family here.

Happy Golden Week!

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry if this is off-topic, but I have been lurking on this site for a year now and felt this video is so important for all here to see. I think most here would agree that this is what we need to do:

It's a detailed look at two towns/citizens' groups in Germany who produce energy from renewables. We should be the ones producing energy, not the nuke plants and other big energy. The economist (at 11:23) explains exactly why we aren't doing this and it saddens me because the world is brainwashed into thinking like the economist.

Anonymous said...

Laprimavera: please see mark jacobson's work at stanford re: smart grid. The software that allows us to manage it means it is possible to manage supply and demand much better than ever before. demand response is also enabled.

mark and his group have proven that all of California's energy needs can be accommodated by solar, wind and hydro, when it is managed using software enabled by smart grid. They have proven the old "baseline big energy" arguments invalid.

personally if it's a choice between nuclear (which we KNOW doesn't offer clean, safe energy) and the smart grid ideas mark has, I'd prefer to bet my future on smart grid.

there is no future in nuclear power. none. not for anyone.

Anonymous said...

@anon at 4:52: I'm not knowledgeable enough to form an opinion on Mark's work, but I have a thought to share based on logical deduction.

I lived in Southern California for the last 25 years. In the summer times, even nuclear power has not produced enough energy to cover the demand, as evidenced by fairly common "rolling black-outs" (electricity cut off completely to varying areas for a limited time) and "brown-outs" (less electricity provided on the same concept).
That would mean, if Mark is correct that renewables combined with smart grid software CAN indeed accommodate all of California's energy demands, renewables would actually be more efficient than even nuclear power - in addition to the other obvious benefits.

Let's hope he is right!

Lord Metroid said...

Your californian black/brown outs are not a problem of energy shortage, it is a problem of speculation.

Anonymous said...

Yes Lord Metroid is right. Market manipulation like Enron:

Anonymous said...

Indeed, perhaps the past "oil crises" and the precipitating events were also part of the Plan to tout nuclear as THE savior in energy and thus the oil drought suffering masses were then easily able to "see the light" of the Nuclear Promise and sign on to it? So the push to expand nuclear worldwide would then easily be accepted?

Stranger things have happened in the history of the world. Anyway, got me wondering...

Anonymous said...

@Lord Metroid and anon 1:46: Good point! Sorry, didn't look/think past the official "not enough energy production" explanation when I posted. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

mscharisma: It's the smart grid that enables renewables to do the job without the traditional baseload. Of course, CA would need to construct renewable generations plants (windmills, etc) but the point is that all this technology is available today. It is modern. Nuclear is old news, outdated by what is possible with today's technology.

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