Japan: nuclear energy is a necessity for the passage of winter

To ensure electricity supply this winter, the Japanese government wants 9 of the 10 restarted reactors to be available.

According to the Prime Minister, the country’s objective is “to have as many nuclear power plants as possible this winter, i.e., 9 reactors in operation supplying 10% of the country’s electricity consumption”. In this short period of time, the aim is to secure the production of the 10 reactors that have already restarted with the agreement of the local authorities and the Nuclear Safety Authority (NRA). According to the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum (JAIF), five reactors are currently in operation in western Japan: Ôi 3&4 (PWR, 2 x 1,180 MW), Ikata 3 (PWR 890 MW), Sendai 1&2 (PWR, 2 x 890 MW).

The other five were shut down due to “periodic inspections” or because “the deadline for completing anti-terrorism compliance work was exceeded.”Of note: Mihama 3 (826 MW) is due to return to the grid in mid-August, two months ahead of the initial date, and Takahama 4 (870 MW) is scheduled for November.

Intensifying cooperation to speed up the restart of reactors

In the medium term, the government also intends to accelerate the restart of additional reactors (33 operable reactors) by strengthening the cooperation of stakeholders, including municipalities.

Japan’s energy and electricity supply, highly dependent on imports, is a real headache. These difficulties have been exacerbated by the consequences of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict on the energy markets. In early May, the government called on the Japanese to save energy to get through the summer. A message that will most probably be repeated during winter. As a reminder, in 2019, gas produced nearly 40% of the electricity and coal 32%, with a respective production of 385 TWh and 329 TWh out of a total of 1011 TWH. Nuclear accounted for only 6% of production for a low carbon mix (nuclear, hydro, wind, solar, geothermal) of 22%. ■

Published on 20 July 2022

By Gaïc Le Gros (Sfen)

Photo : Naoki Ueda / Yomiuri / The Yomiuri Shimbun via AFP