On March 11, 2011, the Fukishima Daiichi nuclear power plant was running on emergency generators due to the automatic shut down of the reactors following the earthquake. Compounding the problem, three reactors had already been shut down for routine maintenance. The emergency generators were disabled when the 14 meter tsunami struck the plant, resulting in nuclear meltdowns and explosions that released great quantities of radioactive material into the environment.
This catastrophe seemed to turn the clock back to the Chernobyl disaster, once again demonstrating the risk of nuclear energy. The evacuation zone is restricted by the government due to environmental concerns. The plant is not expected to reopen.
Prior to the Fukishima disaster, there was a mode of thought that believed technology and safety guidelines had evolved to the point that nuclear power was a viable solution to dealing with baseline power availability in the future. With the projected demand for power increasing, it was believed that the only reliable source of energy would be nuclear power. On the surface, nuclear energy has a lower carbon footprint than the traditional coal burning method. Unfortunately, waste storage is an issue that that will likely outlast our entire civilization.
In the global marketplace, renewable sources provide more power than nuclear energy. Only about a third of greenhouse emissions from developed countries originate from the production of electricity. Nuclear power is unable to effect non-CO 2 emissions. More than half of the energy in Norway and Iceland, and almost half of the energy in Sweden is derived from renewable sources.
It has been demonstrated in the Rocky Mountain Institute’s book “Winning the Oil End Game” that reducing oil dependency can be a profitable endeavor and that there is not a need for nuclear energy. Marked reductions in greenhouse emissions have been achieved in many areas without the use of nuclear energy. These renewable sources are easily implemented, and far less expensive than the development of a nuclear system.