Japan nuclear free since Monday, Sept. 16, 2013, when the last reaction was switched off. Restart unclear.

Japan went 100% nuclear free since Monday, Sept. 16, 2013. When nuclear reactors will be restarted is totally unclear.

Kansai Electric Power (KEPCO) on Sunday Sept 15, 2013 at 16:40 started to reduce power output of Japan’s last remaining active nuclear power reactor (Oi No. 4 reactor), and stopped operations of this reactor on Monday Sept 16, 2013 morning.

Since Monday September 16, 2013 Japan is nuclear free, and will remain so for the foreseeable future. It is unclear currently, when and if nuclear power will be restarted again in Japan.

Japan is strongly polarized over nuclear power

The reason Japan is currently nuclear free is not a policy decision by the Government of Japan or the Prime-Minister, the reason is mainly technical and a consequence of Japanese local politics:

Japan’s nuclear reactors are stopped every 13 months for checks, cannot be restarted in the current political and legal climate

Japan’s nuclear reactors are switched off for routine maintenance and security checks once every 13 months. In order to restart each reactor after this periodic maintenance both Japan’s nuclear safety agency, and also “the local community” have to give their formal agreements. Before the Fukushima disaster, both these two agreements were a formality and given quickly. Since the Fukushima disaster however, the approval by the newly formed Nuclear Safety Agency has been a far higher barrier to overcome.

However, more importantly, it has turned out that “the local community” who’s approval is also necessary is in some cases not well defined. Therefore many community authorities which in the past did not raise their voices, now join in the decision making process. In addition, some regional administrative leaders, such as the Governor of Niigata-ken, have expressed their very strong distrust in current management of nuclear power stations, and are refusing to give their agreement, without which the restart of nuclear power stations within the Prefecture they govern is impossible.

Nuclear power is mainly replaced by LNG

For the time being, nuclear power is replaced predominantly by electricity generation from Liquid Natural Gas (LNG). As a consequence Japan’s payments for LNG are at an all-time high.

You will find detailed statistics and analysis of Japan’s electricity and energy situation in our report on Japan’s Energy Sector.

Japan's last operating nuclear power station was switched off on Monday Sept 16, 2013.
Japan’s last operating nuclear power station was switched off on Monday Sept 16, 2013.

Japan’s last operating nuclear reactor (No. 4 reactor at KEPCO’s Oi plant) was switched off on Monday, Sept 16, 2013. Since then Japan is nuclear free. It is unclear when nuclear power plants will be operated again in Japan.

Read detailed analysis in our report on Japan’s Energy Sector.

Copyright·©2013 ·Eurotechnology Japan KK·All Rights Reserved·

  • taser_this

    Japan is one of the most active countries in Cold Fusion (LENR) research. Both the Toyota group and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries continue to make investment in research in this area, and contribute materially to the field. This may be the next wave of energy based on safe nuclear reactions that Japan adopts.

  • g_fasol

    Thanks for your comment, but I apologize to disagree completely. Cold Fusion created some attention with Pons and Fleischmann’s reports around 1989, but today I don’t think that you’ll find many people working on cold fusion. Regarding cold fusion work at Toyota, as far as I know (according to Wikipedia here) Pons and Fleischmann left their posts in the USA, and joined Toyota’s MRA lab in France, but that was closed in 1998.

    In any case nuclear energy in Japan was never the “next wave of energy”, but only contributed about 30% to Japan’s energy mix (see our report on Japan’s Energy). I think that there is extremely little hope that cold fusion will ever play any role in any energy mix – but even in the extremely unlikely case that it will, it will never be “the next wave of energy”, but would in that unlikely case just contribute a few percent to Japan’s energy mix.

  • Christian

    Thanks for the very interesting update. For gas buyers in Europe, it will be a price driving factor if and when Japan will continue to pull strongly on the global LNG market.
    Following the recent regulation changes, I was with those who expected a swift restart of some nuclear plant.

    Will Japan Inc. be able to afford the permanent nuclear exit ?
    Renewables are good, but equally expensive (with current regime) and are intermittent after all.
    One needs stable supply of electricity to power a modern society…

  • g_fasol

    Christian – good to hear from you and interesting comment, thank you! Regarding LNG, yes, Japan did pull in strongly already,essentially most of nuclear power has been replaces by LNG, after the switch-off of all Japanese nuclear power stations, which used to supply about 30% of Japan’s electricity. No swift restart will happen. It will take a considerable time – maybe one year or longer.

    [Will Japan Inc be able to afford the permanent nuclear exit?] Good question. At the moment the energy payments are a huge load, both on balance of payments, and also on companies and households. This will lead to any amount of reactions to reduce payments – that might range from energy savings, to moving energy intensive production out of Japan. Regarding “permanent nuclear exit” – at the moment there is no certainty of permanent nuclear exit. This was decided by the previous government, but the current LDP government seems to have reversed the nuclear exit – but no long-term energy plan exists yet except for that of the previous government. At the moment Japan’s energy policy is totally up in the air.

    Yes, renewables are “expensive” – but that depends on time, location, etc, and also on how costs of the nuclear disaster and decommissioning of old nuclear power stations is accounted for.