[ RadSafe ] NEW PAPER: Time to Substitute Wood Bioenergy for Nuclear Power in Japan ??

stewart farber SAFarber at optonline.net
Wed Jul 20 15:50:11 CDT 2011

Hello all,


There is a new paper just published about managing forests for Wood
Bioenergy  electricity production in Japan. The Abstract is given below my
signature. If you are interested, follow the link to download a pdf copy for
free. This paper uses the Fukushima accident post-tsunami to argue that
Japan 's forests [biomass] could substitute for all the power generation of


There is a clear error in their Wood Biomass Equivalent by a factor of about
20, underestimating in their calculations of matching biomass requirements
how many million tons of wood it takes to replace TEPCO's 80.9 billion kWh.
See if you can find the error yourself, or do your own calculation from BTUs
or J per kg or whatever, and let me know what you derive as the number of
kWh result from burning a million tons of wood biomass in a modern wood
fired power plant.


I'm writing a Letter to the Editor of this on-line journal [ Energies ]
pointing out the error by the authors in that they claim that it would take
only 14.6 million tonnes of wood per year to generate the 80.9 billion kWh
from TEPCO. Just looking at a figure of 14.6 million tones of wood, it
seemed obvious it was not enough to generate 81 billion kWh.  The authors
state that the annual harvest of wood in Japan is about 32 million tonnes.
In actuality, replacing 81 billion kWh of nuclear generation by TEPCO would
take at least  290 million tons of wood based on their paper's stated factor
that a million tons of wood biomass produce 20 PJ or 0.28 billion kWh.


Also, there is also no accounting in their making the claim about kWh per
million tons of wood in considering the  net energy for a wood fuel cycle
[i.e.: how much energy does it take per million tons of wood to remove it
from the forested 25 million ha -much of it on very steep slopes] and
transport it to a biomass power plant. This is an important number. My
guestimate is that at least 40% of the energy in harvested wood would be
consumed in cutting and thinning trees in isolated forests, bulling it out
the forests [with significant environmental impact], chipping it, and
transporting the harvested wood chips by large trucks to distributed wood
fired power plants. The late realization that the corn ethanol fuel cycle
was a breakeven in terms of energy in and energy out, provides a relevant
precedent of the initial euphoria of the proponents of some supposed answer
to our energy needs.


Intrestingly, logging is one of the most dangerous occupations on earth in
terms of deaths and injuries per 100,000 person-hours.  I have no doubt that
harvesting even 50 million tons of biomass per year for woodchips would lead
to more deaths and injuries than resulted from the Fukushima accident.


And then, what energy is involved in disposing of the millions of cubic
meters of wood ash per year from burning tens of millions of tons of wood
per year. The ash will be slightly radioactive as a consequence of the
Cs-137 and Sr-90 uptake by biomass of fallout activity from open air testing
of nuclear weapons. Back in 1991, I carried out a survey of Cs-137 in wood
ash from around the US. Cs-137 levels of approximately 550 Bq [ 15,000 pCi]
per kg of woodash were measured. Woodash from FL was measured at 925 Bq [
25,000 pCi ] per kg of woodash. Not a lot but interestingly elevated as an
environmental media.


There is also an elevated level of K-40 and daughters of the U-238 and
Th-232 decay series in woodash that won't be decaying away with a 30 year
half-life J.  What are the pathways to man from a million tons of mildly
radioactive woodash. 


So, if interested, take a look at the paper accessed from the link below
about the suggestion to replace all of Japan's nuclear generation by burning
woody biomass.


Also, does anyone have ready access to what is shown as Ref.6 in the
attached paper through their employer's library?:


6. Etoh, H.; Sasaki, N.; Chay, S.; Ninomiya, H. Carbon emission reduction
potentials through thinned wood in Japan. iForest 2011, 4, 107-112.



Stewart Farber, MSPH

Farber Medical Solutions, LLC

Bridgeport, CT 06606

email: SAFarber at optonline.net




Title: Time to Substitute Wood Bioenergy for Nuclear Power in Japan
Authors: Sasaki, N.; Owari, T.; Putz, F.E.

Damage to the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant by the recent earthquake and
tsunami that hit northern Japan should stimulate consideration of
alternative sources of energy. In particular, if managed appropriately, the
25.1 million ha of Japanese forests could be an important source of wood
biomass for bioenergy production. Here, we discuss policy incentives for
substituting wood bioenergy for nuclear power, thereby creating a safer
society while better managing the forest resources in Japan.

Citation: Sasaki, N.; Owari, T.; Putz, F.E. Time to Substitute Wood
Bioenergy for Nuclear Power in Japan. Energies 2011, 4, 1051-1057.


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