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New layout of Japan's energy diplomacy in the era of "reducing nuclear power"

New layout of Japan's energy diplomacy in the era of "reducing nuclear power"

  • Categories:Industry news
  • Author:Member of Honorary Faculty of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
  • Origin:www.chinapower.com.cn
  • Time of issue:2013-05-07 14:37
  • Views:

(Summary description)The major earthquake, tsunami and the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident on March 11, 2011 caused serious damage to Japan's nuclear power industry. As nuclear power plants have successively entered "periodic inspections", the proportion of nuclear power in Japan's domestic power generation has increased from 30.8% in 2010. It dropped to 7% in December 2011, and May 5, 2012 became a "day in history" when all 54 nuclear power reactors in Japan ceased operation. After that, some nuclear power reactors were restarted after passing safety inspections. There are 11 reactors, accounting for about one-fifth of the existing nuclear power reactors, in operation (as of November 30, 2012). At the same time, the movement of "anti-nuclear power" in Japan continues to rise.

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New layout of Japan's energy diplomacy in the era of "reducing nuclear power"

(Summary description)The major earthquake, tsunami and the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident on March 11, 2011 caused serious damage to Japan's nuclear power industry. As nuclear power plants have successively entered "periodic inspections", the proportion of nuclear power in Japan's domestic power generation has increased from 30.8% in 2010. It dropped to 7% in December 2011, and May 5, 2012 became a "day in history" when all 54 nuclear power reactors in Japan ceased operation. After that, some nuclear power reactors were restarted after passing safety inspections. There are 11 reactors, accounting for about one-fifth of the existing nuclear power reactors, in operation (as of November 30, 2012). At the same time, the movement of "anti-nuclear power" in Japan continues to rise.

  • Categories:Industry news
  • Author:Member of Honorary Faculty of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
  • Origin:www.chinapower.com.cn
  • Time of issue:2013-05-07 14:37
  • Views:
Information

The major earthquake, tsunami and the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident on March 11, 2011 caused serious damage to Japan's nuclear power industry. As nuclear power plants have successively entered "periodic inspections", the proportion of nuclear power in Japan's domestic power generation has increased from 30.8% in 2010. It dropped to 7% in December 2011, and May 5, 2012 became a "day in history" when all 54 nuclear power reactors in Japan ceased operation. After that, some nuclear power reactors were restarted after passing safety inspections. There are 11 reactors, accounting for about one-fifth of the existing nuclear power reactors, in operation (as of November 30, 2012). At the same time, the movement of "anti-nuclear power" in Japan continues to rise.

Japan is a "small resource country". After the Second World War, the world once ushered in the era of "one barrel of crude oil for one dollar". At that time, Japan followed the trend and switched from a coal-dominated energy structure to an oil-dominated energy structure in time, especially in electricity. In the industry, in the 1960s, the main power generation was changed from hydropower and coal power generation to oil power generation. However, in the 1970s, two oil crises occurred, the price of crude oil rose, and Japan quickly changed its over-reliance on oil for energy consumption. In terms of electric power, a thermal power generation fuel structure with nuclear power as the head, and liquefied natural gas (LNG) and coal "three pillars" has gradually formed (for example, in 2010, nuclear power, LNG, and coal accounted for 30.8%, 27.2%, and 23.8% of thermal power generation respectively. %, water power and oil etc. accounted for 8.7% and 8.3% respectively). It can be seen that "de-nuclear power" has created a huge gap in Japan's power supply. After the Fukushima accident, the "denuclear power theory" prevailed in the world. As far as Japan is concerned, it can be asserted that the history of nuclear power accounting for 30% of Japan's electricity is gone forever, and Japan will definitely move towards the era of "denuclear power". This is not only because the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident caused so much damage to Japan, but also because of the earthquake that caused the Fukushima accident. Earthquakes can be said to be "everyday" for Japan. Japan's land area only accounts for 0.1% of the world's land area. However, one-tenth of the earthquakes that occur every year in the world occur in Japan. One-fifth of the earthquake occurred in Japan, and experts predict that within the next 30 years, there will be a 70% chance of a magnitude 7 earthquake in the densely populated, industrially developed and concentrated southern Kanto region. It is a fundamental mistake that Japan has built as many as 54 nuclear power plants on such an "unstable" land. Obviously, Japan does not have the natural conditions to become a "powerful nuclear power", and it is inevitable that Japan will withdraw from the club of "powerful nuclear power".

For Japan, the top priority is how to deal with the rapid increase in thermal power demand caused by the shutdown of 43 nuclear power reactors, how to greatly increase the import of thermal power fuels such as oil, natural gas, and coal, and how to develop energy in the era of "reducing nuclear power" accordingly. Diplomatic activities. After the oil crisis in 1973, Japan also actively carried out energy diplomacy, which was called "oil diplomacy" at that time. Compared with energy diplomacy 40 years ago, Japan's energy diplomacy in the era of "de-nuclear power" mainly includes the following three Features: First, focus on natural gas, and strive to diversify the fuel structure of thermal power generation (coal, oil, traditional natural gas, shale gas, etc.); The main direction of attack is to diversify the import sources of thermal power generation fuels; thirdly, in the context of advocating a low-carbon economy globally, take Japan's advanced energy-saving and new energy technologies as "diplomatic cards" to compete for the dominance of the world energy technology market right.

Focus on natural gas to expand power generation fuel imports to make up for it. In order to improve its "negotiation power" with resource-supplying countries and reduce the price of power generation fuels, Japan has actively carried out energy diplomacy to cooperate with the denuclearization and structural adjustment of power generation fuels.

In terms of petroleum, in 2010, petroleum-based thermal power accounted for 8.3% of Japan's total domestic power generation. At present, Japan is still highly dependent on oil imports from the Middle East. In 2011, oil imports from the Middle East accounted for 87% of total oil imports. However, due to the unstable situation in the Middle East and the rapid increase in oil consumption in emerging countries, the price of crude oil has continued to rise since 2004, reaching US$147.27 in July 2008, and then suddenly dropped to 30 due to the financial crisis and other reasons. A few dollars, and then rose to over $100 again in 2011, with high and volatile oil prices becoming a big unsettling factor. But on the other hand, compared with natural gas and coal, oil has special value that is difficult to replace. For example, oil can be used as fuel for automobiles and jets after refining. At the same time, oil is better than liquefied natural gas (LNG) in transportation and storage. ) is much more convenient, so ensuring the source of oil imports remains an important issue in Japan's energy diplomacy.

In terms of coal, in 2010, coal-fired power accounted for 25.0% of Japan's total domestic power generation, which was about three times that of oil. Japan currently uses Australia as an important source of coal imports, where open-pit coal mining conditions are good and can be mined by mechanized methods. At the same time, the sea transportation of coal has greatly increased, second only to crude oil, and large coal carriers of 300,000 tons have also appeared. The biggest disadvantage of coal is that the carbon dioxide emission in the power generation process is much higher than that of oil and natural gas, and the environmental pollution is also more serious, so it will not be the first choice for Japan to expand the import of power fuel in the future.

In terms of natural gas, LNG thermal power accounted for 29.3% of Japan's total domestic power generation in 2010, the highest among the three thermal power generation fuels. The distribution of natural gas is wider and more dispersed than that of oil, and its carbon dioxide emission is the lowest among the three main fuels. The disadvantage of LNG is that the price and freight are relatively high, and storage and transportation are difficult. In contrast to natural gas imported through pipelines, Northeast Asia, including Japan, can only import LNG from the Middle East and other places through LNG tankers (Europe also imports LNG from the Middle East). Weighing the above pros and cons, plus Japan has accumulated rich technology and experience in the efficient use of LNG, in the next few years, Japan will rely more on LNG thermal power to make up for the "de-nuclear power" in order to seek a new "best combination of energy". "The energy gap.

Before the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident, Japan was already the world's largest LNG importer, consuming about one-third of the world's LNG production. From January to October 2012, Japan's LNG import value reached about 50,000 100 million yen, an increase of 30% over the same period of the previous year. In addition, Japan plans to start operating 30 LNG thermal power plants in fiscal 2020, with a total power generation capacity of 15.9 million kilowatts (three coal-fired thermal power plants began operating in the same year, with a total power generation capacity of 2.2 million kilowatts). Therefore, whether a stable supply of LNG can be secured at an acceptable price in the future has become an important issue in Japan's energy foreign policy.

The United States and Russia are the main attack directions to seek diversification of natural gas and oil imports. Among natural gas source countries, Qatar, the world's largest LNG producer, may be unstable due to the situation in the Middle East. Therefore, Japan continues to maintain oil and natural gas from the Middle East. While importing, vigorously promote the strategy of diversifying energy sources. On the one hand, it can increase the bargaining chip with existing energy source countries. On the other hand, it will turn the focus of energy diplomacy to the United States, which is on the rise of the "shale gas revolution", and the Sakhalin in the Russian Far East. Islands, in particular, are eager to take in air from the "gas-rich" Sakhalin by laying subsea pipelines.

As far as the United States is concerned, according to the law, in order to become a natural gas export target country of the United States, it must be a country that has concluded a free trade agreement (FTA) with the United States, and it must first obtain the approval of the United States Department of Energy. However, as a "close" ally of the United States Japan, however, has yet to conclude an FTA with the United States. A recent report from the U.S. government stated that “it would be better for the U.S. economy to send some of the newly discovered U.S. natural gas overseas than to keep it at home.” However, domestic opposition to exporting shale gas remains high, on the grounds that large-scale exploitation of shale gas will damage the environment, exporting shale gas will also lead to higher domestic energy prices, and LNG production and shipping facilities in the United States will also need to be complete. In addition, the United States is the world's largest consumer of natural gas, and the United States uses a large amount of natural gas for heating, so the domestic natural gas demand in the United States will increase significantly every winter, and Japan will not be allowed to obtain natural gas from at least this winter or longer. The United States imports natural gas. In response to this situation, Japan's Mitsui & Co., ITOCHU Corporation, Mitsubishi Corporation and other trading companies have in recent years increased investment in unconventional energy resource projects such as shale gas and shale oil in North America, which are expected to become "energy treasure houses". It is actively preparing to build a system to process shale gas produced in the United States into LNG and then export it to Japan. At the same time, it is turning its attention to energy resources such as LNG and oil produced in Canada, Mexico, Australia, Africa and other places. Especially for the United States, Japan unswervingly insists that the United States export LNG to Japan as soon as possible on the grounds that it is an important ally of the United States. Japan's export of LNG as a soft power to strengthen the US-Japan alliance characterized by Japan's subordination to the US makes Japan more "obedient" to the US and takes a more positive attitude towards joining the TPP.

On the other hand, for Russia, a major natural gas producer alongside the United States, trying to keep the LNG price paid by Japan to Russia higher than the price of European pipeline natural gas imported from Russia is obviously beneficial to Russia, and processing natural gas into LNG , unlike the use of pipeline gas will be locked in Japan, can also be sold to other countries, so Russia is not active in laying submarine pipelines.

As we all know, in order to process natural gas into LNG, large-scale liquefaction equipment and LNG transport ships are required, and a large-scale import base needs to be established in terms of utilization, which means that both parties to the LNG transaction need to make huge initial investments. , Except for some markets such as the United States, LNG trade mostly adopts long-term contracts between the supply and demand sides. Especially for the supplier, development will only be carried out when the future sales target (income source) is confirmed. Those who rashly invest huge sums of money in development without clearly identifying the buyer and their demand, which obviously also applies to large projects such as the laying of natural gas pipelines, require the establishment of a reliable and honest relationship between the transaction parties.

At present, the existing representative natural gas transportation pipelines are about 9,000 kilometers of natural gas pipelines connecting Russia, Ukraine and Germany. In addition, the large-scale natural gas distribution route is the LNG tanker transportation between Qatar and other Middle East countries and countries in the Asia-Pacific region. String. Under the circumstance that Vladivostok already has a LNG plant, Japan wants to find another way to directly import natural gas through pipelines, and it is not so simple to lay a natural gas transportation pipeline like that between Russia and Uzbekistan. It also depends on the relationship between Japan and Russia. During the period of the former Japanese Prime Minister Noda's government, the island dispute between Japan and Russia heated up, resulting in the lack of a good atmosphere for the two countries to carry out large-scale cooperation projects in politics. After the Abe regime came to power, in order to Fulfilling the promise of revitalizing the economy may temporarily put the issue of island sovereignty on hold, try to improve Japan-Russia relations to ensure the supply of natural gas from Russia, and even realize the dream of laying a natural gas pipeline between Japan and Russia, but only when the Japan-Russia gas pipeline will be built After it is finalized, Japan will invest heavily in its domestic natural gas pipeline network, which is still relatively small.

To compete for the dominance of the world energy technology market, Japan's energy diplomacy has so far been centered on how to ensure a stable supply of fossil fuels such as oil and natural gas. In recent years, under the background of climate warming and the long-term supply of fossil fuels, energy-saving technology, nuclear power technology, wind power generation, etc. have received extensive attention from countries around the world. Many countries, including the United States, actively implement the Green New Deal, strengthen investment in the environment and energy fields, and cultivate related industries, which have also become an important means to create employment opportunities and revive the economy.

Faced with such an international situation, in order to ensure its international competitiveness, Japan, as a "small resource country", continues to promote innovations in industrial technologies, energy conservation and new energy technologies that have become Japan's strengths, and continues to import necessary energy resources from overseas. , take Japan's advanced technology as Japan's "unique resource", as an important trump card for Japan to carry out energy diplomacy, and actively promote the so-called "energy technology diplomacy". So far, Japan has exported advanced energy-related technologies through government development assistance (ODA), and has become one of the countries that have contributed the most to the world in the field of energy conservation and environmental protection. In addition, Japan markets its advanced technologies through bilateral trade and direct investment channels. In 2011 and 2012, Japan won a long list of overseas energy technology cooperation orders with its advanced energy-related technologies.

The "supercritical pressure method" developed in Japan for thermal power stations can reach the world's highest level of thermal efficiency of 43%. It is known as "the world's cleanest coal thermal power generation" and is favored by the power generation departments of many countries in the world. .

How to win in the international standardization competition is an important issue for Japan to compete for the dominance of the world energy technology market. The so-called "international standardization competition" is essentially a diplomatic negotiation on how to "international standardization" of domestic technology. At present, the main venues for diplomatic negotiations around international standardization are ISO (International Organization for Standardization), IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) and other international standardization bodies headquartered in Geneva. According to the number of standardization cases undertaken by the two international standardization bodies ISO and IEC in 2007 (compared with 159 cases in Germany, 148 cases in the United States, and 102 cases in France, Japan has only 67 cases), subjectively believes that Japan is among the international standardization bodies. The so-called "political influence" of Germany is not as good as that of Germany, France and the United States. In the future, Japan will not only vigorously strengthen the research and development of environmentally friendly energy technologies (such as smart grids and floating wind power plants, etc.), but also vigorously enhance the political influence of its energy diplomacy in the international standardization competition, so as to avoid the appearance of obvious national ownership. Advanced technology, but caught in the dilemma of having to adopt other countries' technology.

Finally, it needs to be pointed out that the cooperation between China and Japan in energy conservation, emission reduction and new energy technology can bring mutual benefits and win-win results for both countries. We should actively promote it and not be affected by the political relations between the two countries and interfere with the normal economic cooperation between the two countries. and exchange. We must actively use Japan's technology and experience in energy conservation and emission reduction, energy-saving automobiles, energy conservation and environmental protection in high energy-consuming industries such as steel and coal-fired power generation, etc., to help us control air and water pollution such as smog, and help sustainable development of science in China.

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