The challenges for Japan’s nuclear energy trade have been many within the wake of the Fukushima catastrophe. Returning models to business operation requires assembly new authorities security requirements, together with buy-in from native communities. Kansai Electric Power Co. has taken a lead function in restoring the sector.

Japan’s energy technology trade was upended by the catastrophe at Fukushima in March 2011. The nation had about 50 reactors in operation at the moment, however took all its models offline as the federal government checked out methods to enhance the protection of its nuclear energy crops.

It was an costly proposition. Japan has had to purchase liquefied pure gasoline (LNG) to switch its misplaced nuclear technology, importing nearly 84 million metric tons in 2017, at a price of about $35.6 billion, in keeping with the nation’s Ministry of Finance. Japan is by far the world’s largest purchaser of LNG, with China a distant second with about 39 million metric tons imported final 12 months.

That’s an enormous purpose why Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has made restarting the nation’s nuclear fleet a precedence, each for its monetary and environmental advantages, because the nation additionally has elevated its imports of coal for energy technology to switch misplaced nuclear output.

“Japanese energy firms have spent a really giant sum of money, really far more than their different nuclear international locations on a dollars-per-reactor foundation, on reactor upgrades as a result of they know that this funding will permit them to scale back considerably the price of substitute fossil fuels, specifically LNG,” Francois Le Scornet, president of Carbonexit Consulting in France and a former analysis analyst with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), advised POWER. Le Scornet, who has labored within the nuclear sector for AREVA and GE, mentioned, “By restarting increasingly more nuclear reactors, Japan is clearly on the trail to decreasing its fossil gasoline imports.”

Analysts have estimated security upgrades applied at crops making use of for permission to restart have price about $1 billion per plant, although “$1 billion in security upgrades per plant could seem affordable given the projected financial penalties of Fukushima [$200 billion or more],” mentioned Edwin Lyman, senior scientist with the Global Security Program on the Union of Concerned Scientists in Washington, D.C., in an e mail to POWER.

As of mid-October, 15 Japanese reactors had been accepted for restart by the nation’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA), with 9 reactors working. Some operators have determined to not restart their reactors beneath the brand new regulatory regime, with 22 models listed for decommissioning.

Two of the newest reactors to return to business operation are Units three and four at Kansai Electric Power Co.’s (KEPCO’s) Takahama plant, within the Oi district in Fukui prefecture. KEPCO made important upgrades to each models, together with incorporating new measures to satisfy the nation’s harder security rules within the wake of Fukushima. Those upgrades, a part of a mannequin security program, together with the associated fee financial savings from a discount in LNG imports, make Units three and four a worthy recipient of a POWER Top Plant award.

Safety Concerns and Legal Challenges

Post-Fukushima, Japanese nuclear crops not solely should meet new authorities security rules, in addition they face authorized challenges and in some circumstances opposition from native communities about their operation. KEPCO, together with different nuclear operators, has made concerted efforts to work with native residents so that they perceive the measures crops are taking to make sure secure operation.

Units three and four at Takahama are pressurized water reactors designed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, every with technology capability of 870 MW. The models first entered business operation in 1985.

The older Units 1 and a couple of at Takahama—826-MW pressurized water reactors that got here on-line in 1974 and 1975, respectively—additionally went offline…

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