The risks of nuclear in Japan

Today another earthquake hit Japan. This time it was “just” a 6.8 on the richter scale and didn’t cause a tsunami. However at what risk would the Japanese or California coast be should another earthquake hit of sufficient magnitude, as is predicted to occur by most pundits, during our lifetime?

The question always comes back to what is the true subsidy of any power source. Whereas solar’s subsidies are mostly “above the line” (save for the industry subsidies to help create job employment), the ones for nuclear are never properly counted. Did anyone add the “cost per watt” of cleanup in Japan to how efficient they rate the development and distribution of nuclear power?

While its very present of mind right now, due to last year’s events, what tends to happen is that memories are short. In a few years of relative calm, we’ll get a “now you see it was a one-time event”. Really? Three Mile Island? Chernobyl? One time events?

The cost to humanity of placing nuclear in high risk areas is simply too much. Put the reactors in the desert where no human can be affected (relatively) for hundreds of miles, and you could make a case for it. Put nuclear in high risk areas, and then add in the costs of maintenance and cleanup, not to mention human lives, before you determine the final financial costs, then see if it competes with solar. I doubt it.

So while many point to the current challenges of the solar industry, under tremendous price pressures, I believe solar will continue to grow substantially in the near and long term, because the “tide” is not reversible. Its safe, clean, renewable…and now affordable. What else can you ask for?



  1. Accounting is the manipulation of numbers. You can manipulate them any way you wish, but ideally you manipulate them to as accurately as possible reflect all the costs and expenses of any project so that you can make sound decisions. Cleanup-up costs, regulatory costs, construction costs, distribution costs, legal costs – they all have to be factored in. Clean-up costs doesn’t just refer to the aftermath of a disaster. Even solar panels have an end-of-life clean-up cost. Wind has a legal cost when NIMBYs oppose them for aesthetic reasons in their neighborhood – and a distribution cost when posted far away. Nuclear has end-of-life clean-up costs that are never mentioned, legal costs, etc. I am sure I am leaving out tons of costs, but the key is that they all do need to be included.

    • sass says:

      I completely agree. The total life cycle cost of all power sources need to be included, yet the fact remains that with $200Million of lobbying money thrown at congress by the oil industry in the USA and similar things done in other western countries, there is financial support for legislators that try to “demonize” renewable energy in favor of the kind that pays their bills.

  2. Henry Kelly says:

    Yes, nuclear energy always risky for mankind. Now a day, it is broadly use to produce electricity. But during the earthquake it can be blast and the surrounding people might be in danger. So, be careful about it. Thanks mate for the meaningful allocation. :)

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