Floating Wind Turbine Arrives in Fukushima

 Iwaki, Fukushima Pref., July 1 (Jiji Press)–A floating wind turbine to be used for an offshore power generation project arrived at Onahama port in the city of Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan, on Monday.

Member institutions hope that the project, commissioned by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, will help facilitate the reconstruction of Fukushima, one of the three prefectures hit hardest by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

   The wind turbine was made at a Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding Co. <7003> plant in Ichihara, Chiba Prefecture, eastern Japan.


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Winter power cuts for Kansai, Kyushu

The government decided Tuesday to ask customers of Kansai Electric Power Co. to cut power usage by more than 10 percent and customers of Kyushu Electric Power Co. to reduce their electricity consumption by 5 percent this winter.

For the December-March period, the government said the supply-demand situation will "not be as serious as this summer" nationwide.

But due to the idling of nuclear reactors, the power supply capacity of Kansai Electric could be as much as 9.5 percent below peak demand and Kyushu Electric up to 2.2 percent short.

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Japan’s Utilities Seek Record Loans as Fuel Costs Rise

Japan’s top five electric utilities, shut out of the bond market following the Fukushima nuclear disaster, are borrowing a record 4 trillion yen $52 billion in loans at a premium to pay for the surging cost of fuel.Tohoku Electric Power Co., based in the tsunami-damaged northeast, will pay 1.4 percent interest on the 50 billion yen, 15-year loan it clinched on Sept. 30, or a 45.5 basis points spread over the similar-maturity government notes, according to Bloomberg calculations based on company data. Borrowing at that rate, the Japanese utilities would pay an extra 2.6 billion yen in loan interest this fiscal year than they would selling bonds, the calculations show.Tokyo Electric Power Co., Japan’s largest utility, and its peers are facing lower profit margins as the shutdown of Japan’s atomic plants after the world’s worst accident since Chernobyl has forced the utilities to burn more natural gas and coal to meet demand. The companies are scrambling for alternative sources of financing to replace a net 1.25 trillion yen worth of bonds retired since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami caused uncertainty over the future of atomic energy in the country.

Read the rest of the story: Utilities Seek Record Loans as Fuel Costs Spike: Japan Credit.

Japan Nuclear Companies Stacked Public Meetings

An independent investigation in Japan has revealed a long history of nuclear power companies conspiring with governments to manipulate public opinion in favour of nuclear energy.

One nuclear company even stacked public meetings with its own employees who posed as ordinary citizens to speak in support of nuclear power plants.

"The number one reactor has been operating for 30 years and I’ve never had a problem selling my rice or vegetables because of fears of radiation," a man posing as a farmer told a gathering of citizens discussing a proposal to use plutonium fuel at the Genkai nuclear plant on the southern island of Kyushu.

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Nuclear Crisis in Japan Causes Costly Shift to Fossil Fuels

The half-century-old, oil-fueled power generators here had been idle for more than a year when, a day after the nuclear accident in March, orders came from Tokyo Electric Power headquarters to fire them up.

“They asked me how long it would take,” said Masatake Koseki, head of the Yokosuka plant, which is 40 miles south of Tokyo and run by Tokyo Electric. “The facilities are old, so I told them six months. But they said, ‘No, you must ready them by summer to prepare for an energy shortage.’

Now, at summer’s peak, Yokosuka’s two fuel-oil and two gas turbines are cranking out a total of 900,000 kilowatts of electricity a day — and an abundance of fumes.

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Fossil fuels can’t save Japan from power shortage

Japan would face a serious electricity shortage if all its 54 nuclear reactors stopped operating, since the country would be unable to bridge the gap with just fossil fuel, the Japan Center for Economic Research said in a report.

Disagreement within the government on how to handle public anxiety about nuclear power plant safety and the need to avoid blackouts to keep companies from shifting production overseas has heightened the risk of all reactors being shut by next April.

Japan’s nuclear safety agency on Friday also failed to provide a timetable for "stress tests" announced this week, aimed at dispelling public wariness and boosting confidence in the reactors’ ability to withstand natural disasters.

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Japan needs energy: What’s the alternative?

As Japan’s earthquake and tsunami ripped through the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, the wind turbines at nearby Takine Ojiroi Wind Farm did what they were designed to do – they swayed, they stopped, they electronically checked themselves and automatically restarted.

"Except for one turbine that was very close to the nuclear power plant, all the turbines were up and running after the quake," said Sean Sutton of Vestas, the world’s largest manufacturer of electricity generating wind turbines.

"And the damaged turbine we were able to monitor remotely," he said. Even now, the turbines are generating power for the grid despite being isolated within the nuclear exclusion zone.

As a source of power, wind energy is about as clean, safe and earthquake-proof as it gets — the problem is it generates a fraction of Japan’s energy needs.

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