This article was first published on Bbrief.co.za on 6 October 2022 (hard copy below)
Energy sanity makes a comeback in Japan – please can we follow?
When a tsunami caused the Fukushima nuclear power station to explode, it was understandable that Japan reacted by closing its nuclear plants, stopping planning any more, and swallowing the wind and solar power Kool-Aid. But recent events in Europe have caused a re-think.
Russia bared its teeth at Europe and to cut a long story short, Germany found it had cosied up to a monster and was almost totally dependent on Russia for its energy needs. With every other member of the European Union desperately seeking other sources the price of all crude oil-based products has ballooned, especially gas.
Now to the chagrin of the Green lobby - whose belief in man-made climate change has assumed the proportion of a religious cult - the Japanese common-sense decision threatens to finally blunt their media-induced climate change panic and allow common sense rather than computer graphics to determine national energy policy around the world.
Or will it?
Our own government and all our political parties still seem to find the Green Kool-Aid quite tasty. They may agree on paper to plan to build at least some nuclear power stations of the modern modular kind but actual work seems as far away as ever, and no doubt if they were brought closer the usual suspects would emerge to exert pressure to slow and, as far as they are concerned, stop any being built – ever.
Japan, the only country in the world to have been attacked by two atomic bombs, has not abandoned common sense. We on the other hand have.
For those who pay increasingly extortionist rates and taxes to the central treasury as well as the coffers of the municipalities – especially those in the cities – the future continues to provide a vision of more and more black outs, more and more taxes to prop up the rickety edifice of Eskom, more increases of city rates.
And of course, more and more wind farms that never produce the output promised on their shiny boiler plates. The joke being that manufacturing of the wind behemoths uses tons of petroleum-based products, vast quantities of cement and steel that need constant supplies of electrical power in their manufacture,. Photovoltaic panels consume substances that make nuclear waste disposal child’s play, never ever losing their deadly nature.
We should face facts as Japan has done. Energy security is more important than pie in the sky which is what wind a solar are, except for limited off-grid uses or for those that can afford it like supermarkets, small-to-medium factories and large buildings. And people who choose to live way off the grid.
Trying it in the city does not always work either. Check out the greenest building in Cape Town occupied to some extent by BP. The solar panels on its roof don’t work because the French contractors assembled them facing the wrong way. The grey water reservoirs in the basement leak, and the fancy monitor that was supposed to register how much electricity surplus to its needs was being fed back to the City Council, does not show anything of the sort.
Needless to say, the building won an architectural award anyway.
Back to Japan where the Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced this week (24/8/22) on Wednesday that a new energy policy would be in place by year end –a speed that underlines how deep is the energy emergency the country faces. “As a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the global energy situation has drastically changed”, he said. Japan will now re-open nuclear power stations, build new ones and use as much gas as it can get its hand on.
Let us all pray that our leaders and our Green lobbyists listen. Surveys already show that three quarters of all Japanese voters agree with him.
Energy sanity has re-emerged in Japan – can we please follow? A survey like the Japanese one is called for.
The Germans who went into panic mode after Fukushima and closed their nuclear power stations like Japan, and swopped their home grown coal fired electricity generators for nice clean Russia gas, are now scrambling to turn both power station types back on.
Britain is losing Boris Johnson who took the Kool-Aid from the hand of his new wife, and is soon to leave the scene. Will Britain see the light on common sense under a new PM? No one is holding their breath although a nasty norther winter may change many minds (and may snuff out a few who can no longer pay their heating bills)
In short historians are going to have as much fun exposing the lunacies of the last three decades as George Orwell did in writing Animal Farm – rejected by famous British publishers because it may have upset the Russians – whose leaders once signed a non-aggression pact with Adolph Hitler but hurriedly changed sides when the German army was 12 miles from Moscow.
All nations make mistakes. Wise ones learn from history and the mistakes of others. Japan’s decision is a triumph of common sense. If its history is any guide it will emerge as the go-to source of small- to -medium modular nuclear reactors that will be incapable of presenting a danger in any circumstances, and will enable developing countries like ours to banish load shedding which in any other country would still be called black outs.