16 March 2011

She opened the door. I walked through it.

My friend Patty asked on Facebook:

What proportion of your electricity usage do you think comes from nuclear power? (I was surprised when I saw the figures.)

And I said:

I actually know this one: Annually, about 26%, compared to about 20% for the US. (Ours comes from the Calvert Cliffs facility.) We also use a lot of coal (50% compared to the US 51%). Nuclear power is kinda scary every few decades. Coal ruins our environment every day. Maryland's hydropower component is about 3%. If we lived in Idaho, almost all of our power would come from hydro.

And then I added:

Japan is 11% nuclear and 46% oil, most of which is imported.

And it was actually on my mind because as we all worry about and pray for the people of Japan and the horrors they are experiencing I was wondering how much of their power comes from nuclear and how they would replace it were the plants to be permanently closed for some reason.

And here's the answer from the U.S. Energy Information Administration's Analysis of Japan:
Japan has few domestic energy resources and is only 16 percent energy self-sufficient. Japan is the third largest oil consumer in the world behind the United States and China and the third-largest net importer of crude oil. It is the world's largest importer of both liquefied natural gas (LNG) and coal. In light of the country's lack of sufficient domestic hydrocarbon resources, Japanese energy companies have actively pursued participation in upstream oil and natural gas projects overseas and provide engineering, construction, financial, and project management services for energy projects around the world. Japan is one of the major exporters of energy-sector capital equipment and has a strong energy research and development program that is supported by the government, which pursues energy efficiency measures domestically in order to increase the country's energy security and reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

On Friday, March 11, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Sendai, Japan, triggering a large tsunami. The earthquake and ensuing damage resulted in a shutdown of 6,800 MW of electric generating capacity at four nuclear power stations that have a total capacity of 12,000 MW (some plants previously offline for maintenance). Other energy infrastructure such as electrical grid, refineries, and gas and oil-fired power plants were also affected by the earthquake. Japan likely will require additional natural gas and oil to provide electricity, however power demand may be dampened at least in the short term as a result of the destruction of homes and businesses. According to some industry estimates, fuel oil and natural gas consumption could increase by up to 238,000 bbl/d and 1.2 Bcf/d*, respectively, depending on the combination of fuel substitution.

Total primary energy consumption in Japan is over 22 quadrillion British thermal units. Oil is the most consumed energy resource in Japan, although its share of total energy consumption has declined from about 80 percent in the 1970s to 46 percent in 2009. Coal continues to account for a significant share of total energy consumption, although natural gas and nuclear power are increasingly important sources. Japan is the third largest consumer of nuclear power in the world, after the United States and France. Hydroelectric power and renewable energy account for a relatively small percentage of total energy consumption in the country.

The analysis contains lots more information, including the good news that Japan has been decreasing their oil consumption due to government emphasis on conservation and efficiency.  Perhaps we should consider doing the same.**

* Barrels per day and Billion cubic feet per day. A barrel is 42 gallons. A cubic foot is still what they told you it was in grade school.

** Want to know lots of cool stuff about our energy sources and uses? Our very own Department of Energy knows all and tells lots.  Especially about renewable energy resources.

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