Japan’s last operating nuclear reactor went offline on May 5 for routine maintenance, leaving the nation without any operating nuclear plants. The shutdown happened to coincide with Children’s Day, on which the nation contemplates the happiness and well-being of its children — the pillars of future generations.
Currently, Japan’s power supply system relies on huge nuclear and thermal power plants built in less populated regions, the electricity output of which is delivered to energy-gulping urban areas far away using massive transmission grids.
But the nuclear disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Daiichi complex, which triggered the current suspension of all operating nuclear plants, revealed exactly the fragility of such a large-scale concentration, or top-down system.
Other problems with locating nuclear power stations at distant sites also include poor energy efficiency, as it is not easy to utilize the heat that results from power generation and difficult to adjust electricity supplies accordingly to demand fluctuations.
Moreover, there is the ”ethical” issue of exposing rural areas with low power consumption, where the plants are usually built, to the enormous risks associated with nuclear complexes.
Nowadays, many countries around the world are moving toward creating distributed or network power systems that are completely different to that of Japan.
Continue reading at OPINION: Japan must seize chance to reflect on energy, reform power system