"Eight years after Fukushima, nuclear power is making a comeback."
This is according to an article within the European Sting website. The article is well worth a read, and we have noted some of the interesting stats raised in the article:
Tohoku Electric Power, whose Onagawa power plant was closest to the earthquake's epicentre, has been given initial approval from the Japanese government to restart its Number 2 reactor.
The reactor, which has the same design as those that melted down at Tokyo Electric Power Company’s Fukushima Daiichi, was damaged by the 2011 tsunami, though its cooling system remained intact.
Eleven reactors at four nuclear plants in the region shut down automatically when the magnitude 9.0 earthquake hit. Still, three reactors at the Daiichi plant melted down after the 15-metre tsunami disabled their power supply and cooling capabilities.
The Fukushima reactors have been decommissioned, and the prefecture has been earmarked as a $2.75 billion renewable energy hub, with 11 solar plants and 10 wind farms expected to generate up to 600 megawatts.
Nonetheless, Japan is pressing ahead with its nuclear programme – four reactors were restarted in 2018, and the country plans to generate 20% of its energy from its reactors by 2030.
Japan is not alone. Nuclear power production worldwide grew by 3.3% in 2018, with global generation reaching pre-Fukushima levels and nuclear plants meeting almost 10% of the increase in global demand for electricity.
And governments are continuing to invest in nuclear facilities because of their capacity for power generation. In the United States, which has 96 operational nuclear reactors, nuclear plants operated at 92.5% capacity in 2018 – higher than any other form of power. Unlike fossil fuel-based power plants, nuclear reactors don’t produce direct carbon dioxide emissions.
There are more than 50 nuclear reactors under construction around the world – 15 of them in China, aiming to have 58-gigawatt electrical (GWe) by 2020 as part of its efforts to reduce air pollution from coal-fired plants. Almost 70% of China’s reactors have been built in the past decade.
While there were no deaths due to the Fukushima nuclear incident, widespread public protests called nuclear projects to be abandoned in its aftermath. The World Nuclear Association says nuclear power is a safe means of generating electricity, and the risk of accidents at plants is low and declining.
Local authorities still need to agree to the Onagawa reactor's restart before it can go ahead, but it seems nuclear will continue to be a part of Japan’s energy mix for some time to come.
This is exciting news for all of you that are looking to get into nuclear. Particularly in the UK. A recent article from the NIA stated that:
"Nuclear power sector employs nearly 60,000 across UK – Industry Association Latest Figures"
This includes nearly 2,000 apprenticeships and over 900 graduates.
Employment hotspots are located in South West Scotland, South West England, East Lothian and Caithness, North West Wales, the Greater Manchester area, Cumbria, Oxfordshire, Kent and Suffolk.“A zero-carbon economy's focus is creating excitement and interest in the nuclear industry for a new workforce coming into the sector via apprenticeships and graduate schemes. Still, we must quickly establish the conditions for further new nuclear power station projects to maintain this momentum. The new financing method, currently out to consultation, can bring down costs to the consumer and attract investors, and we need to move quickly to flesh out the detail.” Ref: www.niauk.org
If the Nuclear New Build programme is reinvigorated again with more of the planned new site entering implementation, it could generate up to 6,000 jobs a year. “The heightened demand for engineers in the sector will increase competition and could result in higher or more attractive financial rewards for engineers with the right skills to stay or join a new company. Another plus point is that it will open up opportunities for engineers who do not have nuclear expertise to upskill and gain nuclear qualifications. Bodies such as the National Skills Academy are already working with several organisations to help create bespoke nuclear courses.”
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