According to an article in The New York Times, nearly all of Japan’s nuclear plants are now offline. Only two of the country’s 54 nuclear reactors are still running.
So far, the shut down hasn’t led to any major power outages, but that’s partially due to some pretty extreme measures taken by the people and Government of Japan.
For example, air-conditioners are now shut off, even in the heat of summer.
One place the country have felt the brunt force of what shutting off the plants means is on the economy. Partially due to the tsunami, but also due to a sudden rise in the cost of energy, Japan posted its first trade deficit for nearly three decades.
Apart from rising energy prices, Japan also faces another financial problem. Several of the country’s industrial giants have both constructed and run nuclear power plants. The shutting down of these plants leaves these companies with a greatly reduced income and many workers very suddenly out of a job.
One potential way out of this is for the companies to look abroad for opportunities to build and run nuclear power plants there. However, the mood is very much against nuclear power in many places at the moment.
Kenya is reportedly looking to generate much of their electricity with nuclear energy. According to reports, including an article on Voice of America’s website, the country wants a nuclear program to be up and running in about 15 years.
Today, over 80 per cent of Kenyans do not have access to electricity, instead relying on firewood and kerosene to generate energy Electricity is expensive, and the supply is limited.
“If the cost of electricity can be reduced, then more of our people will be having access to electricity and with that other uses of electricity – like cooking, for example, our children being able to read. It will enhance the standard of living of our people if we have nuclear energy in the energy mix in the near future,” David Otwoma, secretary of the Kenyan Energy Ministry’s Nuclear Electricity Development Project said.
The first step towards a full nuclear program for the Kenyans has been the opening of a Institute of Nuclear Science & Technology.
Visiting said institute’s website presents what might both be a public relations gaffe and/or a PR masterstroke, as one of top pictures is of some people installing solar panels. Reassuring, yes, but surely not something that says ‘nuclear power’?