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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

JAPAN IS FLOUNDERING ON ENERGY

It has been ten months since Fukushima, and Japan is floundering on what to do about energy.  There is no consensus and very little hope, anyway.  No doubt all "safe" nuclear powerplants will be re-started.  The country has already approved the lifespan of nuclear reactors from 40 years to 60 years.  They have no other workable option.  But about future fission plants?  Forget it!!!  Watch the news on NHK and virtually every broadcast laments about their earthquake-tsunami-nuclear catastrophe.

One of the more inspired suggestions was one by Masayoshi Son, president of Softbank, who proposed ten 20-megawatt solar power plants across the country for a billion dollars, for which he would himself pay 10%.  First of all, 200 MW are but 1% of the existing nuclear power capability alone, fission is about a quarter of of the electrical capacity of Japan, and electricity is only one-third the total energy consumption of the country.  This is one of the most publicized mega-solar projects, and it is going nowhere.

But Japan has very little sunlight, not particularly terrific wind conditions and no terrestrial biomass potential.  Geothermal is good for onsens, but their heat source is not too high.  I asked my "friends" in Japan to set Mr. Son straight.  Japan's sun is not their answer.  Their only hope is the ocean.  How many major sustainable ocean energy projects have subsequently been announced?  ZERO!!!!

Hydrogen has been suggested, and I co-authored a paper on these prospects, linked with the ocean.  But this deviation is something for the 22nd century.  Solar power from space?  Japan is ahead of the curve in this option, but the reality is fanciful at best, and really expensive.

So what is Japan doing?  Well, they are importing more fossil fuels and floundering.

What is their real future?  The ocean!  Start with Shimizu's Green Float:


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The Dow Jones Industrial jumped 97 to 12,579, with world markets almost all also up.  Gold increased $13/toz to $1660, with the WTI at $101/barrel and Brent at $111/barrel.

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