Post Fukushima, Kurion eyes former nuclear weapons site in U.S.

Following its successful cleanup of contaminated water at the Fukushima reactors in Japan, venture-backed startup Kurion, which makes nuclear waste cleanup technology, is hoping to cleanup Hanford, a former nuclear weapons production site in Washington state.

The Geigergram: hip in the age of nuclear fallout

Japan is even hip when it comes to nuclear fallout. The Gamma Watch Squadron is a crew led by a Japanese rapper that takes Instagram photos of elevated Geiger counter readings in public places around the Fukushima area.

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The Wall Street Journal reports this morning that the Sparx Group, one of Asia’s largest hedge funds, plans to launch a fund in July primarily to invest in renewable energy projects in Japan. It’ll be relatively small, up to a hundred million, but the firm feels the opportunity is so good that even if it can’t raise outside cash it’ll dip into its own assets of $6.5 billion to make the investments. The timing of the fund is no coincidence. Over the next couple months the Japanese government is due to make a decision on where exactly to set tariff levels for renewable energy projects. Many major companies like Mitsui, Hitachi and Toyota are awaiting clarification on the tariff policies, but once a decision comes down, renewable energy development in Japan will get a major kickstart. Over a year after the Fukushima disaster, investors are starting to see the opportunity in Japan.

One year later: Fukushima and the Japan cleantech opportunity

The one-year anniversary of the Fukushima disaster, which claimed the lives of 19,000 and left another 325,000 without permanent housing, was observed on Sunday. In the wake of the disaster, Japan has reassessed its energy policy, and there’s now a massive cleantech opportunity in the country to create safe and renewable sources of energy fed into a reliable grid infrastructure.

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As next Saturday’s first anniversary of Japan’s Fukushima disaster approaches, the National Renewable Defense Council has built a graphic that maps weather patterns from March 11-12 of 2011 over the 104 nuclear reactors in the U.S. It asks the question, “What if the Fukushima nuclear fallout crisis had happened here?” I still think that nuclear power is the fastest short term solution to getting off of carbon emitting fuels and cutting GHGs, though nuclear carries some very high risks. It’s fair to say that it’s not a question of if, but when a nuclear accident will occur, and whether we’re all willing to accept that consequence. What’s more interesting now is that Japan, like Germany, is in the process of shutting down most of its 54 nuclear reactors, creating an enormous opportunity there for renewable energy, most recently exemplified by Hitachi’s investment in Silver Spring Networks. Smartgrid will be hot in Japan!

Startup Kurion says Japan nuclear water cleanup is working

In June, a group of tech companies, including Silicon Valley startup Kurion, started cleaning the contaminated water at the nuclear power plants in Japan. Now Kurion says that the efforts are working and that cesium levels in the water have dropped by more than 40 percent.

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This morning brings lots of energy news from Japan, a country on the forefront of the energy challenges facing the world at large. Japan’s Fukushima nuclear reactor complex disaster has forced the island nation to confront its energy future in ways that are shaking the country. Prime Minister Naoto Kan, facing withering criticism of his government’s handling of the disaster, has agreed to step down — but not before he oversees passage of an energy law that would set lucrative rates for renewable energy to boost clean power development. This proposal is facing criticism from the nuclear power-friendly opposition party, however, which says it could boost power bills sky-high — a similar concern facing utilities in the U.S. and Europe. Japanese clean energy has its champions, including billionaire Masayoshi Son, Japan’s richest man, who has proposed building massive solar projects — but the sketchy proposal would require him to gain access the country’s transmission system in ways that could shake up the country’s centralized utility system. In the meantime, pressing short-term power problems remain. Tuesday saw Japan planning to restart the first nuclear reactor of all those closed after the March earthquake and tsunami. While the country is stricken with nuclear fears, it also faces critical power shortages this summer unless it ramps up its shuttered nuclear power capacity.

Startup Kurion Ships Nuclear Clean Up Tech to Japan

Nuclear waste cleanup startup Kurion says it has shipped several hundred tons of its equipment that will be used to clean contaminated water at the Fukushima nuclear power plants in Japan that suffered damage in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami.

Today in Cleantech

What’s a Japanese nuclear power plant giant to do, post-Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster? Go green, of course. Toshiba announced a major shift away from its plans to generate 1 trillion yen ($12.2 billion) on nuclear power plant projects by 2016, pushing that revenue figure out at least two to three years as nations around the globe shelve or postpone new nuclear projects. Instead, according to company president Norio Sasaki, Toshiba plans over the next four years to increase sales of renewable energy technology to 350 billion yen ($4.3 billion), motors, inverters and battery sales to 800 billion yen ($9.8 billion) and smart grid sales to 900 billion yen ($11 billion). That latter category will be helped along by Toshiba’s $2.3 billion purchase of Swiss smart metering giant Landis+Gyr, no doubt. This big green push puts Toshiba firmly in the ranks of fellow Asian conglomerates such as Sharp, Panasonic, Hitachi, Samsung and LG in green power, energy storage and smart grid ambitions.