Japan nuclear power restarted

2012-07-05 09:01

Tokyo - Electricity generated from nuclear fission began flowing in Japan on Thursday, ending a nearly two-month hiatus in the aftermath of the Fukushima meltdowns, the operator said.

Engineers working at Unit No 3 at Oi power plant in western Japan connected up its turbine allowing it to begin generating power on Wednesday, a spokesperson for Kansai Electric Power Company (Kepco) said.

Its initial 50 000 kilowatts output will gradually increase to a 1.18 million kilowatts capacity as early as Monday, he said.

Following government approval on 16 June, the unit was restarted on Sunday, achieving a self-sustaining fission reaction - criticality - on Monday.

The resumption of the reactor is expected to ease Kepco's expected power shortfall for this summer and lead the government to lower its summer power-saving target for the firm's service area in western Japan to 10% from 15%.

The government has asked households and businesses served by six utilities in central and western Japan to voluntarily cut consumption of electricity by between five and 15% on summer 2010 levels through to 7 September.

Earthquake predictions

Power consumption usually rises in the summer as people turn on air conditioners to cope with the sometimes sweltering weather.

Japan had been operating without nuclear power since early May when the last of its 50 working reactors was shut down for a scheduled safety check.

Restarts were put on hold as the government mulled its options following a 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami last year that crippled reactor cooling systems at Fukushima, amid predictions more giant quakes would strike Japan.

But on 16 June Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda gave the green light to restart two reactors at the Oi plant, with warnings the industrial heartland of western Japan could be as much as a fifth short of electricity.

Prior to the disaster at Fukushima, nuclear power had supplied a third of Japan's electricity needs.

  • David - 2012-07-05 09:58

    To be honest it was probably the right decision. It is all good and well to oppose nuclear energy for its risk factor but the reality is that -The demand has not disappeared and there is no current green energy source that can match the current supply in the time frame. -Coal, oil and other conventional solutions are always an option but they on a day to day bases are far more polluting then nuclear, require huge quantities of rapidly depleting resources (plus they would take time to set up. So it comes to a pro and cons. Cons is there is a slight chance that there would be another event. (Last tsunami to hit Japan was something like 350 years ago) but there is the risk of a complete meltdown. Pro is that is meets very real and current needs that affects the livelihood of millions of workers especially considering that Japan are very reliant on technology. (How damaging was load shedding to the SA economy). Think of all those electronic and car factors that would be standing idle? Other solutions are not viable. So greenies can claim doom and gloom but this decision was a practical one. They can discuss looking at phasing out nuclear energy but that has to be on 20 to 30 year timeline.

  • kathleen.whiteley.7 - 2012-07-05 10:50

    The Japanese have this amazing capacity for bouncing back

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