By on July 8, 2011

Suzuki is not buying into the „once in a millennium tsunami.” Suzuki has a lot of its production near the waterfront in Japan’s Tokai region. Scientists give the area between Toyko and Nagoya an 87 percent chance of getting hit by an earthquake with a magnitude of about 8 within the next 30 years. Suzuki’s answer: Let’s get out of here, fast.

According to The Nikkei [sub], Suzuki will spend 40 billion yen ($500m) and move its production to higher ground and 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) inland. Suzuki plans to acquire a roughly 270,000 sq. meter plot in Hamamatsu. Hamamatsu happens to be the city where Suzuki was founded.

The new site is about 50km (31 miles) from the Hamaoka nuclear power plant. The plant has been shut down and will only be allowed to re-start once huge seawalls and other improvements have been built. According to experts, this will take many years.

And this is where the bigger problem is. Japan and especially the Japanese industry may skate through this summer with a lot of perspiration, but without major power outages. The big outages loom next year. 35 of Japan’s 54 reactors are down. Attempts to re-start them are being stopped by politicians. Just yesterday, Prime Minister Naoto Kan gave an order to not restart power plants unless unspecified “stress tests” are performed.  However, within a year, all remaining power plants have to be shut down for routine maintenance. Nobody wants to sign-off on a delay of the maintenance either. Which would leave Japan without nuclear power next year.

Far away from Fukushima, on the southwesternmost island of Kyushu, Kyushu Electric Power has shut three reactors for regular inspections. They cannot be restarted due to the government edict. Nissan has a factory in Kyushu, Toyota has two factories there.

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17 Comments on “Suzuki Moves Away From The Water – But Will It Have Power?...”


  • avatar
    GS650G

    Which leaves other countries as options for the factories. That either don’t have earthquakes or idled nuke plants.

    South Eastern part of the US beckons. No forced unions either.

    • 0 avatar
      charly

      Those plants probably build for the East Asian market. Why would you move those factories to Redneckistan

    • 0 avatar
      PenguinBoy

      As mentioned previously, I expect the hit to the Japanese power system will drive further hollowing out of the Japanese economy.

      I can’t see Suzuki moving manufacturing capacity to the US though. Off shore manufacturing typically goes to either a low cost region, or somewhere close to a major market. The US is neither low cost, nor a major market for Suzuki.

      Suzuki is big in various emerging markets. it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if they decide to set up shop in some place like India – assuming they can get reliable power there…

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    This whole shutting down of nuke plants is just silly. The actual plants survived the earthquake and tsunami just fine, the emergency backup power systems did not. So it sure seems to me that they need to simply build better backup power systems, and then a backup system for the backup system.

    The Germans in particular are being completely ridiculous on the subject, especially in light of the German fascination with CO2 emissions.

    • 0 avatar

      Germany is better of than Japan. The Germans can import power from their neighbors. France (as well as Germany) has almost zero chances for an earthquake that magnitude combined with a Tsunami.

      With regard to CO2 emissions there might be some problems, however. But who cares (not even polar bears, but they are known for their stubborn survival tactics).

      I think that’s just a fight (not only in Germany) between a growing percentage of the population having no industrial connections whatsoever, and do not want them anymore, and those leading “traditional”, industry-connected lives. The people from the first group rely heavily on state subsidies, whether directly, when working in the public sector, or indirectly, when living partly on the dole, partly trying to get into NGOs or other state-financed projects.

      Of course, the latter will instinctively accept “The State” as a kind of Ersatz mother and naturally hail all actions empowering the role of it. They will also try to fight down the industrial competition in gaining influence. What they don’t even realize anymore is that industries can be ruined pretty fast in a country and can’t be built up anymore, given the world-wide competition.

      Just an attempt to explain it. Would be interesting to hear other opinions.

      • 0 avatar
        charly

        “Traditional”, industry-connected are probably pro nuke but the people who actually make their money in heavy industry talk with their wallet, aka wind.

        PS. nukes need to be refuel every year or slightly longer. For that the reaction needs to cool down and that takes some time (as we all have learned from Fukushima.)

      • 0 avatar

        @charly:

        Call me surprised, that nukes have to be refueled. But I can revel another pretty old secret to you: atomic waste has to be taken care of for some-thousand years.

        These are not the questions, however. The question is, e.g., why an industrialized nation, heavily dependent on power, would suddenly, without any clear future plan want to give up the usage of pretty safe nuclear power plants, because something went wrong with this technology in a totally different scenario several thousand miles away. Nothing has changed with the risks, already known for decennials.

        I can only presume that it’s second-hand panic, resulting in blowing a lot of money in the wind.

      • 0 avatar
        charly

        Nuclear was sold as absolutely safe. Fukushima showed that it isn’t because being hit by a tsunami isn’t that unsuspected in Japan.

        Now for Germany and heavy industry. Germany is big in building windmills and the wind industry is so big today that that means that German heavy industry is deep into making windmills. Much more than they are in building nuclear power plants. So the people who really live industry-connected lives in Germany are for wind and not nuclear. Those “traditionals” that perceive themself as heavy industry living but are not anymore are more nuclear but for those one can paraphrase Plack with progress advances one funeral at a time. Besides heavy industry needs really cheap energy and wind can much easier provide that than nuclear. Killing the nuclear industry is good for German heavy industry

        ps. Tepco and the Japanese nuclear industry had even before Fukushima a bad name. Using clean up crews of homeless people so your employees don’t reach the maximum allowed dosage indicates that you follow the rules to the letter and not the spirit. Something which doesn’t mix well with a well run nuclear industry.

      • 0 avatar
        tced2

        And if Germany gets power imported from France -most of that power will come from nuclear reactors. France is one of the leading countries using nuclear for power generation.

      • 0 avatar

        @charly:
        Of course, they (successfully) sold it as absolutely safe. Of course, they were murmuring about “residual risks” that everyone can easily take. Of course, they were talking about “finding safe solutions” for permanent waste disposal.
        Of course, they did nothing. After forty years, there still is no “permanent storage” solution in sight, worldwide. They don’t even get the “interim storage” right. The world champions of organization in Lower Saxony, for example, are currently faced with an interim storage that went wet and unstable (c.f. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schacht_Asse_II). Of course, they don’t even know exactly what is stored there.
        I really would appreciate smarter, less centralized solutions. Such solutions might come. But I’m simply worried, that the time frame decided upon by politicians in Germany will be too short to achieve it.

        @Robert.Walker: “Swiss are not much in the way 2nd-hand panic monkeys”.
        No, they certainly are not. They don’t rely that much on heavy industries, however. And they also can import power (notably from nuclear-powered France) should anything go wrong with their plans. BTW: I have learned recently that Switzerland is everything but stable, from a geological point of view. Lot’s of minor earthquakes, I didn’t know of, so they might have better, 1st-hand reasons, although Tsunamis are still very rare there.

      • 0 avatar
        charly

        Switzerland is full of mountains. If you see mountains, especially the point type than earthquakes are not far way.

        They were sold as less than one-in-a-million but in reality they are one-in-ten-thousand. That makes their insurance costs probably to high to be economical.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    The anti nuke crowd pounced on this incident and milked it. Reality is not something they can face.
    It’s usually those not affected by the shutdown of the plant that have the loudest voices.

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    If I remember correctly what I read recently, Swiss are also going to phase-out their nuke industry.

    Despite what negatives anybody might have to say about them, Swiss are not much in the way 2nd-hand panic monkeys.

  • avatar
    ExPatBrit

    I am generally pro-nuclear power.

    However when it comes down to it’s all the about the waste. Fix that problem and we have something, but storing it for ever is not viable.

    And in the case of Fukushima, TEPCO presumably in the absence of somewhere to dispose of said waste, decided that storing it on top of the reactor was a good idea.

    • 0 avatar
      tced2

      We can always go the US route – store spent nuclear fuel at each plant (where it is subject to mishaps like in Japan and several hundred sites have to be secured from theft) – and then spend billions of dollars building a used-nuclear material site and then cancel it. The people of Nevada were surprised (???) that the federal government was building a nuclear waste site underground (Yucca Mountain facility). What did they think we were building there over a 20-year period? a new underground casino?

      • 0 avatar
        ExPatBrit

        When it becomes “waste” less than 20% of the potential energy has been used.

        If someone suggested throwing 80% of our, oil, natural gas and coal away and storing it for 2000 years we would think they were nuts.

        And by the way, don’t go near it,as it could kill you.

        I understand the hysteria.

    • 0 avatar
      tced2

      And the French (who get 75% of their power from nuclear plants) have an active re-processing industry to re-capture some of that “leftover” energy. In the US, we a frozen about doing anything with nuclear plants, we can’t build ‘em, we keep the used fuel in “temporary” (potentially dangerous) ponds, we refuse to consider any reprocessing.


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