It’s been over 2 years since the nuclear disaster at Fukushima and it still seems to be making headlines (I'm sure officials were assuring us a few weeks after the disaster occurred that all was well and it couldn't possibly melt down) so I thought I'd do a little survey of recent news.
A few weeks ago I started noticing reports that there was something of a push to restart the Japanese nuclear industry (against the wishes of Japanese voters), which had been shutdown in the wake of the reactor meltdowns. The reports soon prompted speculation of a jump in uranium prices as yet another mini-nuclear renaissance was forecast.
Since then TEPCO has admitted that the plant was leaking 300 tons of radioactive water per day into the Pacific Ocean after denying the leak for months (as per their standard approach of denying any problem exists until doing so was no longer tenable).
The Japanese authorities have now raised the threat level for the plant to a level three "serious incident". It was this leak that led the the widely pilloried "ice wall" approach to be proposed as a solution.
The precise location of the leak has not yet been determined and may not be repaired for years. Besides the "ice wall" idea construction of a concrete seawall around the whole site is also being mooted (another leak has since been reported within the site).
In the aftermath of the disaster, alternative energy solutions have been gaining in popularity. Japan and China have been recording record demand for solar PV (forecast to reach 9GW in the second half of 2013) with a 100% increase on the first half of the year, and a 70% jump over the previous year. Japan's growth alone has been 150 per cent compared to 2012 and is forecast to be over 5GW mid-2014.
The Japanese are also experimenting with energy storage to supplement the expansion of wind and solar on Japan's electric grid with two large-scale battery systems being constructed in the north. A 60 MWh redox-flow battery will be installed on the island of Hokkaido along with a 20 MWh lithium-ion battery in the Tōhoku region.