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 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.
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