Author Topic: Japan Races to Build New Coal-Burning Power Plants  (Read 459 times)

Offline iam4liberty

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Japan Races to Build New Coal-Burning Power Plants
« on: February 03, 2020, 08:03:00 PM »
NYT is going nuts with this story.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/03/climate/japan-coal-fukushima.html
Japan Races to Build New Coal-Burning Power Plants, Despite the Climate Risks

Just beyond the windows of Satsuki Kanno’s apartment overlooking Tokyo Bay, a behemoth from a bygone era will soon rise: a coal-burning power plant, part of a buildup of coal power that is unheard-of for an advanced economy.

It is one unintended consequence of the Fukushima nuclear disaster almost a decade ago, which forced Japan to all but close its nuclear power program. Japan now plans to build as many as 22 new coal-burning power plants — one of the dirtiest sources of electricity — at 17 different sites in the next five years, just at a time when the world needs to slash carbon dioxide emissions to fight global warming.
...
Together the 22 power plants would emit almost as much carbon dioxide annually as all the passenger cars sold each year in the United States. The construction stands in contrast with Japan’s effort to portray this summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo as one of the greenest ever.


Offline Docwatmo

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Re: Japan Races to Build New Coal-Burning Power Plants
« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2020, 08:20:09 AM »
The question to ask is "Why".   There has to be a reason they are going with coal.  Is it backup?  Is it capabilities?  Is it a hedge against disaster or global economic collapse?     There has to be something that makes it viable and feasible.  Or is it just simply cost?   


Offline iam4liberty

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Re: Japan Races to Build New Coal-Burning Power Plants
« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2020, 04:53:26 PM »
The question to ask is "Why".   There has to be a reason they are going with coal.  Is it backup?  Is it capabilities?  Is it a hedge against disaster or global economic collapse?     There has to be something that makes it viable and feasible.  Or is it just simply cost?

Because the new high-efficiency coal-fired thermal plants are awesome. These arent the old style, legacy plants which people in US are familiar.  These are state of the art clean coal facilities. They will lower Japan's polution and cut costs dramatically vs other non-nuclear options. 

Offline Greekman

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Re: Japan Races to Build New Coal-Burning Power Plants
« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2020, 04:55:08 AM »
what iam4liberty said....

in the same time Europe (read that renewable resources "influenced" EU politicians) has demonized the coal industry.
kudos to the japs, I say!

Offline David in MN

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Re: Japan Races to Build New Coal-Burning Power Plants
« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2020, 10:31:19 AM »
It is rather unfortunate that we Americans go unsung in our reduction in pollution over the past 6-ish decades. I remember George W Bush (I'm not a fan) struggling to try to get across "clean coal" because our technology has so vastly improved. People just don't understand how coal can be a part of a modern energy solution. We tend to wax about the smog of London in the 1800s. Modern reality is very different.

Offline iam4liberty

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Re: Japan Races to Build New Coal-Burning Power Plants
« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2020, 10:53:04 AM »
It is rather unfortunate that we Americans go unsung in our reduction in pollution over the past 6-ish decades. I remember George W Bush (I'm not a fan) struggling to try to get across "clean coal" because our technology has so vastly improved. People just don't understand how coal can be a part of a modern energy solution. We tend to wax about the smog of London in the 1800s. Modern reality is very different.

The rise of natural gas has been amazing.  But now that is under attack from Dem presidential candidates too.  They want to shut down US production no matter how efficient and clean it is.  Ultimately, new nuclear will win but it will be a battle till the end.  In the meantime we can expect hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars to go into failed projects like Solyndra and Ivanpah.

Offline IKN

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Re: Japan Races to Build New Coal-Burning Power Plants
« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2020, 07:30:52 PM »
I wouldn't count on nuclear.
I worked in the nuclear generating world for 30 years, it's a dying industry.
Plant de-commissioning is also another huge bubble getting ready to burst in 12 to 18 years when a majority of all current plants will be shutdown from age and that's a conservative estimate.
Companies were supposed to pay in to the fund, but convinced the government they could invest the money to help pay for it. They were even allowed to defer the decommissioning process for plants that are currently closed until the deadline (2032 or 2038, can't remember).
The info on the dates, currently closed plants, estimated decommissioning cost, and current fund balance used to be publically available on the NRC website. They took it down years ago. The last time I looked at it before it was taken down, one company would need to put 100% of their stated profits into the fund in order to reach the estimated cost balance before the deadline.

Many of these companies (including the one I worked for) have split off the nuclear generation portion of the company into its own subsidiary. I believe this was a move to be in a position to just allow these companies to file bankruptcy and pass off the cost to the taxpayers.

Offline iam4liberty

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Re: Japan Races to Build New Coal-Burning Power Plants
« Reply #7 on: February 05, 2020, 10:18:37 PM »
That is old nuclear, 1950s style fission reactors.  New nuclear using new fission designs and upcoming fusion are completely different proposition.  This year alone the world is adding 15 new reactors.  In France, for example, they are moving from 75% to over 80% nuclear.  India is about to take off drawing upon its thorium reserves.

If I had to guess, we are now within 20 years of practical fusion, maybe even 10.  But public is unaware of progress being made.  Just like most people are unaware we will soon have blanket high speed internet across the country via satelites.

Offline IKN

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Re: Japan Races to Build New Coal-Burning Power Plants
« Reply #8 on: February 06, 2020, 08:12:01 AM »
From a purely technological perspective, this may be true, but from a political, corporate investment ideology, and legal perspective, it won’t happen fast enough. Even the recent plants under construction have ceased with no other new ones even being planned.

They can build all the nuclear plants they want in Europe and Asia, it does nothing for us beyond proving the viability of new designs.
Here in the USA, the barriers to new plants are multi-facetted:
•   The political winds between pro and anti nuke can shift too fast for corporations to risk spending that kind of money.
•   Anti-monopoly laws stand in the way of a single style reactors unless they are designed and built to allow the use of fuel from more than one manufacturer. There are currently only 2 manufacturers of nuclear fuel assemblies in the US. Power plant owners/operators are required to buy from both so both stay in business in order to not violate these laws.
•   While the public opinion towards nuclear is slowly shifting to pro, this isn’t the case when it comes to the “NIMBY” syndrome. “Not in my back yard” !
•   Currently, nuclear generation only equates to about 25% of the generating capacity required for our needs. It also resides in only a small portion of the US. It’s impractical to transmit electricity all over the country and would necessitate building more plants in more areas (see last “NIMBY” comment.
•   New regulations for ensuring the safety of current reactors that came out of the 9/11 and Fukushima events have required companies to invent a huge amount of money in current plants which takes away from using assets to build new ones. I think the added re-design and operational costs were, at least somewhat, responsible for the termination of continued construction of the new plants being built.

I could go on, but you get the idea.
I personally think your estimate on a “Viable Fusion Reactor” is a very liberal one. Currently, the fusion process can only be sustained for just a few milli-seconds. Beyond the need to make this a sustainable reaction in a laboratory environment, it will take many more years to design and test a practical, commercial design. And then they have to balance the cost of construction to long term pay-off.

Offline Mr. Bill

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Re: Japan Races to Build New Coal-Burning Power Plants
« Reply #9 on: February 09, 2020, 01:33:14 PM »
If I look out my window, there's a nuclear power plant steaming away in the distance.

I don't mind nuclear power plants if they are handled comptetently.  I suspect most of the citizens of Japan currently believe that plant operators and government regulators cannot be trusted to operate them competently, and you can hardly blame them for that belief.

But there is still not a satisfactory way to dispose of nuclear waste from the plants (including the plants themselves when they reach retirement age).  I feel like the industry's attitude has always been "People of the future will take care of that issue, it's not our problem."

Well, the other thing I see out my window is Hanford, and we are now the people of the future who are spending uncountable billions to take care of that problem.  Yeah, Hanford was atomic bomb production and not electricity generation, complicated by decades of incompetent and undocumented storage/disposal of waste materials, but many of the issues are similar.

I look forward to fusion power, but commercially-viable fusion power has been 10-20 years in the future ever since I was a kid.

Offline Docwatmo

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Re: Japan Races to Build New Coal-Burning Power Plants
« Reply #10 on: February 09, 2020, 01:53:31 PM »
Same with Hydrogen Fuel Cell's.  On small scales they can work well, but not at the production level we have been expecting for the last 20 years.   

Offline iam4liberty

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Re: Japan Races to Build New Coal-Burning Power Plants
« Reply #11 on: February 09, 2020, 04:42:28 PM »
Well, I know several scientists working on fusion right now in the private sector.  They have never been as positive as they are right now.  One of their company's just got a $100 million check from a single invester.   They are at same point of development that electric cars were in about 2005.  Wouldnt want to bet against them.

Offline IKN

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Re: Japan Races to Build New Coal-Burning Power Plants
« Reply #12 on: February 11, 2020, 09:49:01 AM »
For a project like a fusion reactor, $100 mill is a drop in a lake. I recommend watching this video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XNcGpQCX8a0

The international collaboration for the ITER fusion reactor had an initial cost estimate of between $3 to $4 BILLION. The latest estimates put it at over $60 BILLION.
Even if it works, the estimated power output would only be 500 MW thermal. By the time this energy is converted to steam, to mechanical energy, and finally to electricity, that number would drop to around 150 MW electric.
For comparison, the two fission reactor plants I used to run output around 1,200 MW electric each with a modern day estimated construction cost of $2 to $3 BILLION.
That's 16 times the output for 5% of the cost.

Offline iam4liberty

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Re: Japan Races to Build New Coal-Burning Power Plants
« Reply #13 on: February 11, 2020, 10:09:55 AM »
$100 million from a single investor in first round.  That is same as was done by Space X.  That investment now sits at over $30 Billion. That is the type of funding level we are talking about.  Remember how everyone said reusable rockets couldnt be done and price of satellite deployment couldnt be reduced (let alone have Mars capable rocket)?  That was less than twenty years ago.

https://www.crunchbase.com/organization/space-exploration-technologies#section-overview
Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) is a space-transportation startup company founded by Elon Musk. It designs, manufactures, and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft. It is developing the partially reusable launch vehicles Falcon 1 and Falcon 9. Originally based in El Segundo, SpaceX now operates out of Hawthorne, California, USA.

SpaceX was founded in June 2002 by Musk who had invested $100 million of his own money in the company as of March 2006


Wall street is in.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/fusion-startups-step-in-to-realize-decades-old-clean-power-dream-11581001383
FUSION STARTUPS STEP IN TO REALIZE DECADES-OLD CLEAN POWER DREAM
Governments have spent billions of dollars studying the emissions-free energy source. Now, private ventures are building smaller, faster, cheaper reactors.


« Last Edit: February 11, 2020, 10:16:29 AM by iam4liberty »

Offline IKN

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Re: Japan Races to Build New Coal-Burning Power Plants
« Reply #14 on: February 11, 2020, 11:22:33 AM »
Yes, private industry is more efficient that any government and they are making advancements (they claim), but it seems most of the "Private" companies are, at least, partly funded by governments. Unfortunately, that often results in fraud and false claims just for the money.
I'm not saying that's always the case, but chances are, there are some fraudulent practices going on.

That said, what I'd like to see is funding in the amounts used for fusion research going towards other clean, renewable energy generation methods.
I've followed progress in the hydrogen based energy generation field for years now. Every time I see a development that shows promise, it gets a few headlines and then nothing. A lot of the sites are even taken down with a lot of them being for colleges and universities.

Space-X does put rockets in space cheaper and more efficient than NASA and other space agencies, but they also benefited from all the governmental research that went before. It's a lot easier and cheaper to improve something than it is to create it. To some extent, private company research into fusion is based on the governmental researched methodology, as well, with different ways of approaching the same fundamental approach.

Offline iam4liberty

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Re: Japan Races to Build New Coal-Burning Power Plants
« Reply #15 on: February 12, 2020, 11:09:04 AM »
More background.  Key point is that fusion power has moved from basic science to applied science/engineering.

https://spectrum.ieee.org/energy/nuclear/5-big-ideas-for-making-fusion-power-a-reality
5 Big Ideas for Making Fusion Power a Reality
Startups, universities, and major companies are vying to commercialize a nuclear fusion reactor


The joke has been around almost as long as the dream: Nuclear fusion energy is 30 years away...and always will be. But now, more than 80 years after Australian physicist Mark Oliphant first observed deuterium atoms fusing and releasing dollops of energy, it may finally be time to update the punch line.

Over the past several years, more than two dozen research groups—impressively staffed and well-funded startups, university programs, and corporate projects—have achieved eye-opening advances in controlled nuclear fusion. They’re building fusion reactors based on radically different designs that challenge the two mainstream approaches, which use either a huge, doughnut-shaped magnetic vessel called a tokamak or enormously powerful lasers.

What’s more, some of these groups are predicting significant fusion milestones within the next five years, including reaching the breakeven point at which the energy produced surpasses the energy used to spark the reaction. That’s shockingly soon, considering that the mainstream projects pursuing the conventional tokamak and laser-based approaches have been laboring for decades and spent billions of dollars without achieving breakeven.

Offline IKN

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Re: Japan Races to Build New Coal-Burning Power Plants
« Reply #16 on: February 13, 2020, 07:04:59 AM »
One other concept you haven't mentioned, in case you're interested.

https://arstechnica.com/science/2019/03/physicists-flip-the-d-in-tokamak-get-unexpectedly-good-result/

They may well eventually solve the problems and make fusion energy a reality.
Problem is that it's still a technology beyond the average individual and keeps control of the source.
Some of the other clean, renewable sources could make it possible for the average individual or small group to become energy independent giving them the option to cut the cord.
To me, that's the 'Holy Grail' of energy production.

Offline Mr. Bill

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Re: Japan Races to Build New Coal-Burning Power Plants
« Reply #17 on: February 13, 2020, 10:51:34 AM »
...Some of the other clean, renewable sources could make it possible for the average individual or small group to become energy independent giving them the option to cut the cord.
To me, that's the 'Holy Grail' of energy production.

Heh, this reminds me of some of the discussion about cold fusion.  Of course cold fusion turned out to be a zero, but for a few weeks it was in the "maybe it's real" category, and learned people were informing us how, even if it worked, it would take decades to scale it up large enough for electrical power plants.

And I was thinking, no, you goofballs, the whole point is that, if it works, it can be tiny.  You could put a cold fusion generator in each lightbulb, in each home appliance, in each car, etc.  The goal is to provide energy, not to perpetuate the electric power industry.

But it didn't work, so the issue was moot.

Offline IKN

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Re: Japan Races to Build New Coal-Burning Power Plants
« Reply #18 on: February 14, 2020, 09:02:50 AM »
And I was thinking, no, you goofballs, the whole point is that, if it works, it can be tiny.  You could put a cold fusion generator in each lightbulb, in each home appliance, in each car, etc.  The goal is to provide energy, not to perpetuate the electric power industry.

I get your point, but even if it worked, it wouldn't be tiny. All other factors aside, the fusion process is still highly radioactive.
The radioactivity is short lived, but the process emits huge gamma and neutron radiation. The two strongest and most dangerous types.
This  would require a lot of shielding and the materials used could become highly radioactive. What was used for shielding would determine how dangerous and long lived the radiation would be.

Offline iam4liberty

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Re: Japan Races to Build New Coal-Burning Power Plants
« Reply #19 on: February 14, 2020, 09:52:51 AM »
I get your point, but even if it worked, it wouldn't be tiny. All other factors aside, the fusion process is still highly radioactive.
The radioactivity is short lived, but the process emits huge gamma and neutron radiation. The two strongest and most dangerous types.
This  would require a lot of shielding and the materials used could become highly radioactive. What was used for shielding would determine how dangerous and long lived the radiation would be.

Cold fusion as initially proposed would have very little radioactivity.  The palladium catalyst process was alleged to transform two deuterium atoms into 1 tritium, 1 protium, and heat.  Protium (typical hydrogen) is stable.  Tritium has a half life of about 12 years so for the short time in vessel before disposing would only produce a small amount of beta particles.  And these beta particles would be of such low energy that they wouldn't penetrate more than three inches of air.

Alas, it was not so.

Offline iam4liberty

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Re: Japan Races to Build New Coal-Burning Power Plants
« Reply #20 on: February 21, 2020, 11:06:34 AM »
Hmmm...i may have to build one of these.

https://spectrum.ieee.org/energywise/energy/nuclear/try-this-at-home-fusion-in-the-basement
Try This at Home! Fusion in the Basement
By day, Carl Greninger is a Microsoft IT manager. By night, he’s a fusioneer who inspires students to master fusion science

Offline iam4liberty

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Re: Japan Races to Build New Coal-Burning Power Plants
« Reply #21 on: October 02, 2020, 07:27:30 AM »
If I had to guess, we are now within 20 years of practical fusion, maybe even 10.  But public is unaware of progress being made.  Just like most people are unaware we will soon have blanket high speed internet across the country via satelites.


This is legit.  The designs check out

https://www.livescience.com/nuclear-fusion-reactor-sparc-2025.html
Nuclear fusion reactor could be here as soon as 2025

A viable nuclear fusion reactor — one that spits out more energy than it consumes — could be here as soon as 2025.

That's the takeaway of seven new studies, published Sept. 29 in the Journal of Plasma Physics.

If a fusion reactor reaches that milestone, it could pave the way for massive generation of clean energy.


And satellite internet is doing well too:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/roberthart/2020/09/29/billionaire-elon-musk-teases-ipo-for-starlink-spacexs-satellite-internet-business/#53bca61c1e40
Billionaire Elon Musk Teases IPO For Starlink, SpaceX’s Satellite Internet Business