Energy Consumption Tips

For the past four decades, energy costs have spiralled beyond control and now eat up a lot of every family’s budget. But most people are not aware of simple energy-saving tips they could easily practice and save a lot of money they could use for other vital expenses.

Whether we are talking about electricity or gas, we can do something about the high cost of energy consumption. Here are a few easy to do tips:

1. Every small thing adds up to big expense

The casual way most people treat energy use leads them to waste a lot of money. Leaving small gadgets and appliances left plugged into outlets, such as cellphone chargers, unused PC’s, TV, aircons and electric fans can consume energy because of their standby mode features. They may not consume much when unused; but when left for hours, they could still add up to a sizeable chunk of a kilowatt-hour. In some cases such as defective electric fans, they could be actually pose as fire hazards when they are on and people think they are not and beign to heat up and burst into flames.

In the case of gas, an expert driver and energy-saving guru once advised that idling your car for just two minutes before driving off is sufficient to warm up the engine without wasting so much gas or damaging your engine. Most people warm their vehicles up for ten minutes or more, wasting so much gas and even polluting their own homes. Add up the daily waste of gas incurred which you could convert into actual mileage you get from your car.

2. Economic use of your air-conditioner

Use of the air-conditioner in warm climates cuts a big slice into a family’s budget. But the wise and self-sacrificing individual can do something to reduce the cost of its use. At night, when the temperature goes down a bit, you can turn on the aircon for an hour or two instead of the expected eight hours till morning and cool down your room comfortably throughout the night. When it gets warm in between, you can turn on a fan to cool you down. You can save more than fifty percent of the usual cost of running the aircon all-night-long.

Or you can opt to turn on the aircon all night but keeping the thermostat at the minimum. That way, you keep the room at a comfortable level without having to allow the condenser to work so much. A 10 to 20 % saving can be attained through this.

3. Schedule your use of energy to avoid wastage

Cooking can add a big cost to your energy use from other sources. For instance, if you live in a condo which you normally keep cool with a fan or an aircon, turning on the stove can raise the temperature and increase your expense. Having an exhaust fan to drive away heated air may help; but the better thing to do is to turn off the aricon and use a fan alone. You may also design the unit in order to isolate the kitchen from your living room.

Having so many gadgets that emit heat (PC, TV, water cooler and decors that use electricity) may also add up heat to your unit tremendously without you noticing it. Distributing them around your unit (keep the TV in the room while the PC should be placed in the living room) or scheduling their use so as not to create a multiplier -effect.

4. Keeping a simple lifestyle

Keeping a minimalist attitude in life may actually be the answer to reducing energy cost. Do you really need a big flat TV or two other monitors for your laptop? Can you not do with a smaller house than one that is oversized for you family?

Estimating your energy cost based on your lifestyle choices can bring a lot of savings. And choosing to be frugal when it comes to energy expense can free some funds for other beneficial use, such as education for the kids.

5. Divide business from family consumption

If you run a business at home and you need so many equipment and lighting, it might be wise to divide the use of energy accordingly so that your expenses are separate and you can monitor your use for your personal consumption from the business component.

For those who find no need to separate the two, such as running a dental clinic or a small variety store in front of a house, they may opt to use some appliances for business also for their family use. A freezer inside the store may be used for keeping your meat supply. Or the clinic may be turned into a guest room when you have visitors over a weekend.

6. Renovate to innovate

As a personal challenge or as a hobby, redesign your home in order to lessen energy cost for heating, cooling or lighting may help you save some money. Bigger windows will provide more light during the day so you will not need to have artificial lighting. At night, you can have more air coming in to cool down the interiors. Insulating some rooms facing the sun may also help keep temperatures comfortable all throughout the day and save you some money.

Solar energy is the best way to open up possibilities in energy saving which many people have not explored. The initial cost may be prohibitive; but in the long-run, you can pay for the expense with continuous savings derived from using free solar energy.

7. Keep a healthy lifestyle

Take time to read and discover the many ways you can save energy. Keeping an active and healthy lifestyle, for example, may be one good way to save some of your expense for electricity and cable services. If you have the habit of staying outdoors early in the morning or evening, walking, bird-watching or biking, you will find no need to stay in front of the TV or the PC sitting for hours and spending on energy instead of energizing and keeping your body fit.

There are a lot of ways to do away with wasteful energy use and saving money. It oly takes some imagination and a lot of self-sacrifice which can actually equate to self-improvement.

 

Is Tesla project a Dream Factory?

San Antonio had to claw its way into contention for Tesla Motors‘ planned “gigafactory,” a dream project that would put 6,500 people to work in a $5 billion plant that produces lithium-ion batteries.

By several accounts, local officials overcame the city’s also-ran status in the early stages of Tesla’s site selection. They finally coaxed the electric-car maker into taking a serious look at San Antonio for the project, which the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company announced in late February.

Now, San Antonio may be considered the strongest potential site in Texas.

That’s because CPS Energy brings a lot to the table as a would-be partner for Tesla and because Mayor Julián Castro is reportedly working as many angles to win the project as he and his staff can think of.

As Tesla vets potential locations, CPS Energy is posting flirtatious Tweets on the virtues of electric vehicles. The city-owned utility is also using social media to play up its commitments to renewable energy — it’s looking to make wind and solar power account for 20 percent of its electricity sources by 2020 — and demand response, which is when customers voluntarily reduce their use of electricity at times of peak demand.

Presumably, that’s music to the ears of Elon Musk, the co-founder, CEO and chairman of Tesla. He’s also co-founder of SolarCity, one of the largest providers of residential solar systems in the U.S., and Tesla’s gigafactory would produce battery packs not just for Tesla vehicles but also “stationary storage applications” for homes and businesses. Solar panels on rooftops and battery systems to store the power they generate would come in handy for the demand response CPS Energy boasts about.

Texas — which is competing against Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico for the gigafactory — also has caught a couple of lucky breaks lately.

A big black mark against both Texas and Arizona is that they basically outlaw Tesla’s distribution model — to sell cars directly to consumers, without going through franchised auto dealers.

True, Texas lawmakers are unlikely to break free of the hold dealers have on them (and their campaign accounts) anytime soon. But at least Arizona proved itself to be in the same position last week; a bill that would have allowed Tesla to sell straight to consumers — perhaps giving the state an edge — died in the legislature, according to news reports.

Also last week, the drive in New Mexico for a special legislative session to OK incentives for the gigafactory appears to have petered out, Albuquerque Business First reported Tuesday.

But as San Antonio officials have gotten their hopes up, questions about the viability of Musk’s gigafactory have been relentless. An April 1 headline in the Wall Street Journal: “Does Tesla Really Need a $5 Billion Battery Factory?”

Some of the skepticism started with Panasonic, which currently supplies lithium-ion batteries to Tesla.

The maker of the luxury Model S sedan is willing to spend $2 billion on the facility, which would take up 10 million square feet and sit on as many as 1,000 acres. The company needs partners to cover the other $3 billion, and Musk suggested Panasonic might be one of them.

But Panasonic’s president, Kazuhiro Tsuga, was noncommittal when he talked with reporters in Tokyo on March 26. As Bloomberg reported, he said: “Elon plans to produce more affordable models besides Model S, and I understand his thinking and would like to cooperate as much as we can. But the investment risk is definitely higher.”

Tesla has stayed mum on potential partners since then.

The big idea behind the gigafactory is that mass production, with raw materials such as lithium and cobalt coming in the front door and battery packs going out the back, will push down the cost of batteries by about 30 percent. Since batteries are the most expensive components of electric vehicles, the cost cuts would make Tesla cars less expensive.

A good thing, considering the Model S now starts at a little more than $70,000.

The company also has its mid-market Model E in the works — a car priced for the rest of us. It’s expected to launch in 2017, the same year Tesla wants its gigafactory to start production.

Some of the questions coming at Tesla are whether it could actually slice 30 percent off of battery production costs, and how it would source the raw materials. But the most important question is whether enough drivers will embrace all-electric vehicles to keep the gigafactory humming.

As planned, the facility would produce enough batteries for 500,000 vehicles per year by 2020.

Selling that many Teslas would be a real feat.

The company began delivering the Model S is 2012 and had sold over 25,000 in North America and Europe by the end of 2013, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. For a little perspective: Chevrolet sold 42,000 Silverado trucks in March.

Overseas sales will be critical to Tesla. The manufacturer will start selling Model S sedans in China this month, and in Japan, the United Kingdom and Australia later this year.

A local official I talked with recently, who’s worked on the gigafactory bid, was hopeful but also wary, saying, “There are questions about how viable this project is.

“It depends on your view of the future. Will enough people give up their gas-powered cars?”

Post-Fukushima Japan Chooses Coal Over Renewable Energy

An employee holds a piece of coal in a storage yard at the Joban Joint Power Co. Nakoso coal-fired power station in Iwaki City, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan.

An employee holds a piece of coal in a storage yard at the Joban Joint Power Co. Nakoso coal-fired power station in Iwaki City, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is pushing Japan’s coal industry to expand sales at home and abroad, undermining hopes among environmentalists that he’d use the Fukushima nuclear accident to switch the nation to renewables.

A new energy plan approved by Japan’s cabinet on April 11 designates coal an important long-term electricity source while falling short of setting specific targets for cleaner energy from wind, solar and geothermal. The policy also gives nuclear power the same prominence as coal in Japan’s energy strategy.

In many ways, utilities are already ahead of policy makers. With nuclear reactors idled for safety checks, Japan’s 10 power companies consumed 5.66 million metric tons of coal in January, a record for the month and 12 percent more than a year ago, according to industry figures.

“You cannot exclude coal when you think about the best energy mix for Japan to keep energy costs stable,” said Naoya Domoto, president of energy and plant operations at IHI Corp., a developer of a technology known as A-USC that burns coal to produce a higher temperature steam. “One way to do that is to use coal efficiently.”

Japan’s appetite for coal mirrors trends in Europe and the U.S., where the push for cheaper electricity is undermining rules limiting fossil fuel emissions and supporting cleaner energy. In the U.S., a frigid winter boosted natural gas prices, providing catalyst for utilities to extend the lives of dirtier coal plants. Germany, Spain and Britain are slashing subsidies for renewables to rein in the cost of electricity.

An employee walks in a coal storage yard at the Joban Joint Power Co. Nakoso coal-fired power station in Iwaki City, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan.

An employee walks in a coal storage yard at the Joban Joint Power Co. Nakoso coal-fired power station in Iwaki City, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan.

Mixed Bag

For renewable energy environmental groups, Japan’s policy is a mixed bag offers little in the way of policy direction. Instead, it backs the status quo, calling for reactors shut after the 2011 disaster to be restarted while offering no targets for the amount of power coming from wind and solar.

“What had been expected of the basic plan was to present a major policy to switch from nuclear power,” the Japan Renewable Energy Foundation said in a statement. “But the basic plan shows that the government has given up fulfilling that role. The plan does not promote a shift from old energy policies.”

WWF Japan urged the government to set a target to promote clean energy as soon as possible.

“The energy plan failed to present the spirit of innovation,” the conservation group said in a statement April 11. “Japan basically needs to recognize an increase in coal use is a serious issue for climate change. The country needs to push for reduction of carbon dioxide.”

The Joban Joint Power Co. Nakoso coal-fired power station stands illuminated at night in Iwaki City, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan.

The Joban Joint Power Co. Nakoso coal-fired power station stands illuminated at night in Iwaki City, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan.

Fossil Fuels

In calling for technology to be used to soften coal’s environmental impact, the plan acknowledges that traditional fossil fuels pollute more and carry higher costs.

Before the accident, Japan got 62 percent of its electricity from fossil fuels, and nuclear made up about a third, according to government figures. Since then, utilities reverted to fossil fuels such as liquefied natural gas and coal to replace nuclear capacity taken offline. Those thermal power sources generated about 90 percent of Japan’s electricity in fiscal 2012, according to figures in the energy plan.

Buying more fossil fuels comes at a cost. The resource-poor nation has run 20 consecutive months of trade deficits and last year backtracked on promises to cut greenhouse gas emissions. That jarred United Nations talks involving 190 nations discussing ways to limit global warming.

Export Hopes

“It’s crucial to have diverse energy sources for a country like Japan, which relies on imports for all energy,” said Akira Yasui, an official in charge of coal policy at the Ministry of the Economy, Trade and Industry. “Our basic stance is to use coal while caring for the environment as much as possible. Coal is economical and stable in supply.”

Abe’s government is supporting the development and export of advanced coal technology from Japan. According to a growth strategy released in June by the prime minister, the nation intends during the 2020s to commercialize A-USC technology. It’s also seeking to sell a equipment that combines fuel cells with a process called integrated gasification combined cycle to improve the efficiency of power generation.

“By applying Japan’s most advanced coal technology, the U.S., China and India can reduce a combined 1.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year,” far above Japan’s total emissions, Toshimitsu Motegi, Japan’s trade minister, told parliament in February.

Fukushima Disaster

Japan’s interest in IGCC technology is on display at the Nakoso Power Station’s No. 10 coal power generator, about 60 kilometers (37 miles) south of the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant. The unit, set up in 2007 to demonstrate the feasibility of the technology, can produce about a quarter of a typical nuclear reactor’s 1 gigawatt of electricity.

Had it not been for the Fukushima disaster three years ago, the generator would have been closed. Today, it’s up and working after repairs. The station, operated by a joint venture between Tokyo Electric Power (9501) Co. and Tohoku Electric Power (9506) Co., posted record output for the year ended March 31.

“This was a research generator,” Yoshitaka Ishibashi, associate director and executive general manager at the plant, said in an interview. “They’re usually dismantled once the study is over. But nuclear reactors were suspended, power supply was tight, and 250 megawatt is not a negligible capacity. So it was turned into a commercial one.”

More Coal

Tokyo Electric, better known as Tepco, has other plans to use more coal for the stations that serve 29 million customers around the nation’s capital.

The utility plans to add two more IGCC generators at the Nakoso station and at its Hirono plant, also in Fukushima. A more traditional 600-megawatt coal-fired generator at the Hirono site began operating in December.

Power generation costs from IGCC can eventually be reduced to conventional coal power generation levels at 9.5 yen (9 cents) per kilowatt hour, though that may not happen for 10 years to 15 years, said Ishibashi at the Nakoso power station.

“The plan represents nothing but anachronism,” said Mie Asaoka, head of the Kiko Network, a Kyoto, Japan-based environmental organization.

Floating Nuclear Plants Could Ride Out Tsunamis

This illustration shows a possible configuration of a floating offshore nuclear plant, based on design work by Jacopo Buongiorno and others at MIT's Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering. Like offshore oil drilling platforms, the structure would include living quarters and a helipad for transportation to the site. Illustration courtesy of Jake Jurewicz/MIT-NSE

This illustration shows a possible configuration of a floating offshore nuclear plant, based on design work by Jacopo Buongiorno and others at MIT’s Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering. Like offshore oil drilling platforms, the structure would include living quarters and a helipad for transportation to the site. Illustration courtesy of Jake Jurewicz/MIT-NSE

New power plant design could provide enhanced safety, easier siting, and centralized construction.

When an earthquake and tsunami struck the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant complex in 2011, neither the quake nor the inundation caused the ensuing contamination. Rather, it was the aftereffects — specifically, the lack of cooling for the reactor cores, due to a shutdown of all power at the station — that caused most of the harm.

A new design for nuclear plants built on floating platforms, modeled after those used for offshore oil drilling, could help avoid such consequences in the future. Such floating plants would be designed to be automatically cooled by the surrounding seawater in a worst-case scenario, which would indefinitely prevent any melting of fuel rods, or escape of radioactive material.

 

Cutaway view of the proposed plant shows that the reactor vessel itself is located deep underwater, with its containment vessel surrounded by a compartment flooded with seawater, allowing for passive cooling even in the event of an accident. Illustration courtesy of Jake Jurewicz/MIT-NSE

Cutaway view of the proposed plant shows that the reactor vessel itself is located deep underwater, with its containment vessel surrounded by a compartment flooded with seawater, allowing for passive cooling even in the event of an accident. Illustration courtesy of Jake Jurewicz/MIT-NSE

 

The concept is being presented this week at the Small Modular Reactors Symposium, hosted by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, by MIT professors Jacopo Buongiorno, Michael Golay, and Neil Todreas, along with others from MIT, the University of Wisconsin, and Chicago Bridge and Iron, a major nuclear plant and offshore platform construction company.

Such plants, Buongiorno explains, could be built in a shipyard, then towed to their destinations five to seven miles offshore, where they would be moored to the seafloor and connected to land by an underwater electric transmission line. The concept takes advantage of two mature technologies: light-water nuclear reactors and offshore oil and gas drilling platforms. Using established designs minimizes technological risks, says Buongiorno, an associate professor of nuclear science and engineering (NSE) at MIT.

Although the concept of a floating nuclear plant is not unique — Russia is in the process of building one now, on a barge moored at the shore — none have been located far enough offshore to be able to ride out a tsunami, Buongiorno says. For this new design, he says, “the biggest selling point is the enhanced safety.”

A floating platform several miles offshore, moored in about 100 meters of water, would be unaffected by the motions of a tsunami; earthquakes would have no direct effect at all. Meanwhile, the biggest issue that faces most nuclear plants under emergency conditions — overheating and potential meltdown, as happened at Fukushima, Chernobyl, and Three Mile Island — would be virtually impossible at sea, Buongiorno says: “It’s very close to the ocean, which is essentially an infinite heat sink, so it’s possible to do cooling passively, with no intervention. The reactor containment itself is essentially underwater.”

Buongiorno lists several other advantages. For one thing, it is increasingly difficult and expensive to find suitable sites for new nuclear plants: They usually need to be next to an ocean, lake, or river to provide cooling water, but shorefront properties are highly desirable. By contrast, sites offshore, but out of sight of land, could be located adjacent to the population centers they would serve. “The ocean is inexpensive real estate,” Buongiorno says.

In addition, at the end of a plant’s lifetime, “decommissioning” could be accomplished by simply towing it away to a central facility, as is done now for the Navy’s carrier and submarine reactors. That would rapidly restore the site to pristine conditions.

This design could also help to address practical construction issues that have tended to make new nuclear plants uneconomical: Shipyard construction allows for better standardization, and the all-steel design eliminates the use of concrete, which Buongiorno says is often responsible for construction delays and cost overruns.

There are no particular limits to the size of such plants, he says: They could be anywhere from small, 50-megawatt plants to 1,000-megawatt plants matching today’s largest facilities. “It’s a flexible concept,” Buongiorno says.

Most operations would be similar to those of onshore plants, and the plant would be designed to meet all regulatory security requirements for terrestrial plants. “Project work has confirmed the feasibility of achieving this goal, including satisfaction of the extra concern of protection against underwater attack,” says Todreas, the KEPCO Professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering and Mechanical Engineering.

Buongiorno sees a market for such plants in Asia, which has a combination of high tsunami risks and a rapidly growing need for new power sources. “It would make a lot of sense for Japan,” he says, as well as places such as Indonesia, Chile, and Africa.

This is a “very attractive and promising proposal,” says Toru Obara, a professor at the Research Laboratory for Nuclear Reactors at the Tokyo Institute of Technology who was not involved in this research. “I think this is technically very feasible. … Of course, further study is needed to realize the concept, but the authors have the answers to each question and the answers are realistic.”

The paper was co-authored by NSE students Angelo Briccetti, Jake Jurewicz, and Vincent Kindfuller; Michael Corradini of the University of Wisconsin; and Daniel Fadel, Ganesh Srinivasan, Ryan Hannink, and Alan Crowle of Chicago Bridge and Iron, based in Canton, Mass.

 

Japan’s energy footprint in a post-Fukushima landscape

Since the earthquake and subsequent tsunami that caused the catastrophic meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in March 2011, Japan’s nuclear energy capacity has faced an uncertain future. The government has faced a significant cleaning up operation in the wake of the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl. But their troubles do not stop there, as the costs of shutting down Japan’s 48 reactor plants for safety checks and inspections begin to mount up. Japan has been nuclear-free since September 2013.

The operators of these idled plants have been forced to spend approximately $87bn on burning fossil fuels to make up for the energy shortfall, driving costs higher. As a result, they have seen $60bn wiped from their combined stock values, and the nine publicly traded nuclear operators together lost an estimated sum in the region of $50billion in the two business years since Fukushima. The ramifications of these gargantuan losses have been keenly felt. Kyushu Electric Power Co has sought a $1bn bailout from the government, alongside Hokkaido Electric Power Co which is also seeking financial backing to get them out of their difficulties.

Nuclear power however remains unpopular with the general public after the disaster at the Fukushima plant, and the struggles of Tokyo Electric Power Co in trying to deal with it. 69% of respondents to a poll in the Tokyo Shimbun said they felt that nuclear power should be entirely phased out and an Asahi newspaper poll last month found that nearly 80 percent of those surveyed supported a gradual exit from atomic power.

Regardless of these concerns, the Japanese Cabinet approved an energy policy that reverses the previous government’s plans to gradually decommission the country’s 48 nuclear power plants, which are currently idling pending rigorous safety inspections.

The country is seeking to move away from over-reliance on nuclear power (before the Fukushima disaster, nuclear power accounted for nearly one third of Japan’s electricity) but is adamant that once reactors can be verified as being safe, they will be restarted. The new energy policy seeks to increase the amount of clean energy used by Japan ahead of old targets, but also names coal as being an important pillar of Japan’s energy strategy. That said, it was also stated that while coal is economical, with a steady and stable supply, the large amounts of greenhouse gases it emits are a concern. Thus there are also plans to push through technological developments that will be aimed at drastically reducing these emissions through efficiency gains.

But returning to the question of nuclear power once again, a Reuters analysis suggested that of the 48 currently idled reactors, 17 are unlikely to be restarted, and as many as 34 may have to be mothballed due to the high costs of necessary safety upgrades, seismic risks or general local opposition. Therefore, if these figures are to be believed, the major Japanese utility firms face major decommissioning costs if their plants do not pass the strict new safety standards when they are eventually inspected.

The new energy plan defines nuclear power as “an important base-load power source” but the overall role of nuclear power in the Japanese energy mix was not defined. There is a commitment to go beyond existing targets for renewable energy usage, but no concrete numbers were given. What is clear is that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is enacting a policy that is likely to prove unpopular in order to secure the ailing atomic industry. But it may still be too late to save the ailing atomic industry in Japan, with Mycle Schneider, a Paris-based independent energy consultant saying: “I think it is unavoidable that the Japanese utilities will write off most of their nuclear ‘assets’ and move on.”

Japan faces major difficulties with regards to its energy requirements in the post-Fukushima landscape, with gargantuan costs faced by the major energy companies, as well as the burden placed on the government and other creditors as these companies desperately try to stay solvent. While the re-activation of several plants is likely to alleviate these problems somewhat, it is clear that many will never be turned on again. Japan needs to reduce its dependency on nuclear power, a move that is supported by the general public, but it also needs to ensure that it can guarantee a stable energy supply going forward, and attempt to mitigate the huge losses already caused by the “nuclear problem” so far. The latest energy policy seeks to strike a balance between these aims, but it remains to be seen whether they will be successful.

Tokyo Power opens new Biomass Plant in Mahiyanganaya

The Tokyo Cement Group recently opened its second Biomass power plant to supply the largely rural region of Mahiyanganaya with 5MW of energy.

This Rs. 2.4 billion plant by Tokyo Power, the energy arm of the nation’s leading cement and concrete manufacturer, Tokyo Cement Group, is an initiative to build on its expertise in sustainable biomass power. “Tokyo Power launched the Mahiyanganaya plant after successfully pioneering the first plant of its kind in Sri Lanka that provides 10MW of clean energy to their factory in Trincomalee,” according to a company statement.

This 5MW Dendro power plant is expected to contribute approximately 40 million kWh annually to the national grid using sustainable green energy sources, notably Gliricidia, a fast growing tree legume, which is available in abundance in the country’s dry zone. The fuel-wood is obtained from plantations of Gliricidia sepium, or from farmers in the region who grow these trees through Tokyo Cement’s out-grower agricultural programmes.

The expected generation capacity of 40 million kWh per year or 3.33 million kWh per month should enable the supply of electricity to reach an additional 30,000 rural households, thereby allowing the farmers that grow and supply Gliricidia, to directly benefit from their involvement in supplying biomass for the community’s energy consumption, the company said.

“Our success with our initial Biomass plant in Trincomalee, gives us confidence that this plant will not only supply clean, stable energy to an under-served region but will also help stabilise the electrical grid, by supporting the CEB (Ceylon Electricity Board). Consistent, stable power generation will allow for small and medium scale industries in the region to perform better without the fear of outages,” noted E. Kugapriya, General Manager, Tokyo Power.

The Tokyo Power Dendro Plant in Mahiyanganaya will generate 40million kWh annually to light up 30,000 rural homes with clean energy, whilst preventing 28,122 Metric Tons of greenhouse gasses being emitted into the atmosphere.

“This is the equivalent of taking 5,920 passenger vehicles off the road, or if we were to drive 10,775,846,000 kilometres less every year. It is the equivalent of NOT consuming 11,978,640 litres of gasoline, or NOT burning 13,701,421 Kgs of coal. It is the equivalent of 10,80 tons of waste NOT being sent to landfills. The environmental impact of such carbon emissions could only be sequestered by planting 721,082 tree seedlings grown for 10 years, or the equivalent of 23,051 acres of a forest per year,” the statement noted.

Tokyo Cement said it aims to engage 20,000 farming families and promote Gliricidia growing across 2500 acres of Mahiyanganaya, to empower rural communities and develop sustainable land use systems, thereby securing the wellbeing of resource-lacking farming communities.

“Through the Gliricidia growing programmes, we have forged many strong bonds with local farming communities. We decided early on that we wanted them to take ownership of this project that not only leads to the electrification of their homes, but will also stimulate their local economy. We’ve projected that this Tokyo Power Dendro plant, will contribute Rs. 24 million per month in direct cash flow to farmers in the region. Thereby making this a truly self-sustaining initiative,” said Salinda Kandapola, Agricultural Outsourcing Manager at Tokyo Cement Group.

Japan to Utilize Nuclear Energy based on Pragmatism

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The government of Japan finally came to the conclusion that the same nuclear energy that played a powerful role in modernization, is once more to be part of the energy policy of this nation. Prime Minister Abe is focused on rejuvenating the economy therefore a pragmatic energy policy is needed. Abe therefore made it clear that nuclear pragmatism is required based on the negative side effects of using dirty energy alongside having extremely limited natural resources. Not surprisingly, the utilization of the nuclear sector is a way out of the current stalemate within the body politic of Japan.

Irrespective of anti-nuclear media outlets in Japan, green environmentalists espousing doom, the blatant manipulation of facts about the stance of the majority of Japanese nationals by the international media and other areas related to negativity, it is clear that nuclear favored political parties and politicians have been re-elected locally and centrally. Indeed, anti-nuclear candidates and the main opposition party have been beaten time after time collectively in relation to national politics and local government on the whole. This doesn’t imply that the majority of Japanese nationals are pro-nuclear but it does show that other concerns are deemed to be more important.

This isn’t to downplay anti-nuclear feelings within Japan but the reality is that more people will go shopping in trendy Shinjuku, Harajuku and Ikebukuro on an average day, than the numbers that usually turn up for anti-nuclear protests. Also, it seems rather callow for some individuals that the international media and certain Japanese media outlets focus on the nuclear issue so much – after all, how many people died because of the tsunami compared with nuclear power? Not only this, the main issue in relation to the nuclear crisis that erupted after the 9.0-magnitude earthquake triggered a brutal tsunami, is the fact that “human failing, mismanagement and cronyism” were the main factors behind the tragic events that followed.

Hysteria towards the nuclear sector is often based on the manipulation of language. After all, dirty energy and enormous pollution related to other non-nuclear factors kill untold numbers every year. Of course, if Japan, or any nation, decides to focus on renewable energy based on a thorough plan that is fully effective and not based on hypocrisy, like Germany, then all well and good. However, currently this reality doesn’t exist in Japan. Therefore, until a proper energy plan is put in place that can supersede the need to utilize nuclear energy then Japan must focus on pragmatism.

New stringent tests have been put into place following the nuclear crisis that erupted after the brutal tsunami. Given this reality, and the nod of the Abe government, then it would appear that some reactor restarts will begin in earnest.

Toshimitsu Motegi, the current Trade and Industry Minister of Japan, says: “We aim to opt for an energy supply system which is realistic, pragmatic and well balanced.

If the majority of Japanese nationals had desired to phase out nuclear power, like promised by the Democratic Party of Japan, then obviously the masses would have elected them on this platform. Yet this never materialized despite all the media distortions within Japan and outside of this country. Therefore, it is high time for Japan to focus on energy pragmatism. After all, enormous costs of importing energy and health related issues based on the current policy of using dirty energy to a higher degree – based on the numbing down of nuclear energy – isn’t viable indefinitely.

In early January the Modern Tokyo Times stated: “Now Japan is stuck by either adopting a pragmatic nuclear policy based on modernizing the entire system and implementing tougher standards – or to continue with importing dirty energy at a negative cost in terms of health related issues and hindering the economy. Of course, Japan could try to radically alter its energy policy by implementing a policy that boosts alternative energy – the effects and costs remain debatable. However, the current status quo of relying on expensive imported fossil fuels to bridge the non-existent energy policy isn’t viable.

Therefore, it appears that the Abe government is finally acting irrespective if individuals agree with this policy or not. More important, at least a direction and aim is now being planned for Japan in order to meet the demands of a modern society that lacks natural energy resources.

Comprehensive carbon tax is the least bad option: revenue neutral

Do you agree that carbon emissions have to come down to take the edge off global warming?  Or do you have doubts about what they call climate change?  Then just simply reduce smog and other lung-unfriendly pollutants but how do you do it?  The rate we are going, what happening is, it is as if taxpayers are being milked to subsidize renewable energy.  Do we have to launch a carbon-trading market?  Or should we tighten energy-consumption regulations on appliances and cars, or how about carbon taxes?

Everything has its imperfection.  An example is the carbon trading markets have been an abject failure.  Europe was flooded with carbon credits, pushing their value down to almost nothing.  It had fraud-prone market.

The less risky choice is a comprehensive carbon tax that affect to all hydrocarbon fuels, from gasoline to propane.  Since there are no exemptions it is democratic.  And since if there is one thing governments do efficiently, it is easy to administer and it is collect taxes.  Consequently, it provides each consumer the liberty to decide the cheaper energy use that best go well with his or her budget.  But the question is, is it fair?  If the extra tax income is offset with lower taxes elsewhere then it is revenue neutral, which makes it fair.

At least the one in British Columbia works considered a global model, does.  An independent study found that per capita fuel consumption in B.C. fell 17.4 per cent in the tax’s first four years (to 2012) while greenhouse gas emissions fell 11 per cent. And the tax has not indignant the economy.