POWER PROBLEMS: The Costs Of Nixing Nuclear.
Japan is officially restarting its nuclear energy program, after shutting down its reactors in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima crisis. It’s an understandably emotionally fraught decision, but as the FT reports, it’s crucial for the country’s shaky economy. . . .
Nuclear’s benefits aren’t just economic; it’s an effectively zero-emissions energy source, and when countries phase it out, as Japan and Germany did in the wake of the Fukushima disaster, their emissions go up. Of course, if that was the whole story, it would be easy to chart Japan’s energy future. But when nuclear goes wrong, it can go very wrong. Japan sits on a tectonic boundary—not the ideal location for nuclear plants (it’s worth noting that the case for nuclear energy in Germany, which is not vulnerable to the same seismicity, is much more straightforward).
Fortunately, there’s a new generation of nuclear reactors coming down the pipe, reactors that are fail-safe by design, which would lessen the likelihood of another Fukushima catastrophe happening again.