Will Japan’s new no-nukes stance affect South America?

This is big news from Associated Press:

Japan to scrap nuclear power for renewables and conservation

The prime minister says Japan must ‘start from scratch’ and abandon its plan to obtain half its energy from atomic power

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Chile, Argentina, Brazil and Venezuela are among countries that are planning nuclear programs — with Chile signing a nuclear cooperation agreement with the USA after the Fukushima disaster. And in Peru, the Macusani mining district is growing in part on uranium speculation.

It will be interesting to watch for local effects from the Japanese policy shift. (I was going to write “fallout” rather than “effects” but that would be in bad taste. Nuclear science is here to stay, in the language, anyway.)

3 thoughts on “Will Japan’s new no-nukes stance affect South America?

  1. Tom ODonnell

    I would take thi s announcement by the Japanese government with a grain of salt. Take for example, the similar policy adopted quickly by Merkel of Germany under great pressure as soon as the Fukushima accident took place, to shutter all Germany’s nuclear plants over time. Consider that Germany is much more prepared from its long-time R&D and actually implemented national and EU policies that have mandated for over a decade that the country go to alternative energy in electricity generation at about a 20% level. Germany has already spent a great deal of money and invested great efforts in alternatives – especially wind and solar. Nevertheless, they lag significantly on all these goals (wind just offshore and along the north coast does the best to date as far as meeting policy goals, due especially to very favorable geography and weather conditions for wind farms in that region; but all other forms have lagged very significantly). Take a look at this article in the Financial Times today: Fukushima boosts green case for nuclear
    … ignore the bit of conservative varnish, and see the facts cited — Germany is building lots of coal fired power plants, and since shutting down nuclear plants has increased its carbon electricity footprint 10% because the shortfall in production comes from neighboring countries’ coal and gas fired power plants, and will continue to largely do so. So, Japan, with little previous experience compared to Germany in going to alternatives, will likely do even worse if it shutters its nuke plants. Furthermore, (I just gave a talk on this), the material-resource base of Japan and geostrategic interests in energy security will push the country again towards nuclearntil and there are very large scale non-fossil fuel alternatives available. Japan has essentially ZERO fossil fuels at home (see graphs at the EIA website with the country report on Japan), and this was a major weakeness in WW II (See, for example, Yergin, Chapter 18: “Japan’s Achilles Heel” ). In this regard it is much like France, and for very similar reasons simply cannot significantly wean itself from nuclear without very greatly increasing coal and gas imports. This would greatly raise green house gas emissions, but, just as constraining, it would mean great exports of Yen to pay for it, and great geostrategic dependencies that nuclear avoids.
    As for Latin America: Chavez’ plan is pie-in-the-sky. Venezuela has no capacity to go to nuclear plants at the present time, and the Russians are not serious, for now, in their offer – though they would love the business. In any case, Chavez quickly pledged he would not develop nuclear power shortly after Fukashima occurred.
    The Argentinians and Braziians, on the other hand, have deeply established reasons to further develop nuclear, and much invested already, especially in Brazil. But, that is too much to discuss now here. To some extend, the same is true for Chile.
    In any case, as Brazil goes forward with both its nuclear power AND military propulsion programs, I doubt either Chile or Argentina are comfortable leaving the field entirely to big Brazil next door. In particular, Kirchner recently got offers from the Chinese to develop her country’s new nuclear plants Read this. It is not clear is she will take up this offer; but this is intended by Beijing to further lock in commercial entanglements between itself and Argentina to maintain the later as a reliable source for agriculrural and other commodity imports.

    1. Kepler

      I am no expert in that, I just follow German news and travel frequently through Germany. They will make it. It is not just coal. There is a huge challenge now because they want to expand the wind mills in the North and to transfer electricity to the South they need new electricity lines. The discussion is mainly about how they will construct those lines: under the Earth, how much money is going to that and how to make energy “containers” more efficient.

      Germany actually exports now electricity: from the North to other countries in the North. The South has to import electricity from France and the Czech Republic.

      Setty:
      As a journalist for Latin America you should always keep an eye on Chigüire Bipolar. They said it all:
      http://www.elchiguirebipolar.net/16-03-2011/ingenieros-nucleares-socialistas-molestos-con-suspension-de-planta-%C2%BFpara-eso-estudiamos-3-meses/

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