Saturday, March 19, 2011

Fukushima Solar Plant - No Additional Crisis After Earthquake

     The Japanese prefecture of Fukushima hosts power plants other than the one we know so much about.  Rengo's corrugated board plant in Yabuki, in normal times, receives all its daytime power needs from the Sun.

    See a photo of the 1.5 Megawatt photovoltaic (PV) rooftop and ground-mount array.

     I don't know the extent of the damage to the array or factory, which was away from the coast.  I hope the workers and their families were safe, and can get back to work soon.  The following can, however, be easily surmised:

- Damage to the Fukushima solar PV plant did not result in an explosion

- No one was required to evacuate due to damage to the Fukushima solar PV plant

- No radioactive or chemical contamination resulted from damage to the Fukushima solar PV plant

- The Fukushima solar PV plant may still be operational or can be restarted after repairs

- The Fukushima solar PV plant will not have to be entombed in concrete for centuries

- Damage to the Fukushima solar PV plant did not cause any health risk to humans or wildlife

- No heroes in radiation suits will have to risk their lives to make sure the Fukushima solar PV plant is safe

- The rescue and recovery effort for the earthquake and tsunami was not complicated by the Fukushima solar PV plant

     As the nuclear crisis progresses, we will likely find more bad things that did not happen at the solar plant.

     Let's take a look at forms of energy that explode:

Coal - Upper Big Branch mine explosion, West Virginia, 2009

Oil - Deepwater Horizon explosion, Gulf of Mexico, 2010

Natural Gas - San Bruno Explosion, 2010

Nuclear - Pripyat, Ukraine, 1986

Geothermal - Explosion at Innamincka, South Australia, 2009

Concentrated Solar Power - Daggett California explosion and fire, 1999

Wind - Denmark, 2008 and many others

Hydroelectric - Teton Dam Collapse, Idaho, 1976

For ordinary solar panels? The only thing exploding is the jobs!

Solar PV - Solar Jobs Explosion, Ontario, Canada, 2010

The nuclear energy debate is over, and fossils are running out.  Solar PV panels involve no fuel, moving parts, or high temperatures.  It's time for Obama to make that speech and for America to follow the lead of Germany and Ontario with consistent support for solar on every roof.

Joy Hughes
Founder, Solar Gardens Institute

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