Tokyo: The Japanese government aims to restart seven domestic nuclear reactors in different parts of the country by next summer, bringing the total number of operating power units to 17, Japanese media reported on Wednesday.
According to Japanese newspaper Yomiuri, the government mulls launching units 6 and 7 of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant, unit 2 of the Onagawa plant, units 1 and 2 of the Takahama plant, unit 2 of the Shimane plant and unit 7 of the Tokai-2 plant.
Local administrations have already approved the restart of reactors in Onagawa, Takahama and Shimane, which are finalizing the works to improve the safety of the facilities.
Japan’s ministry of economy, trade and industry may also consider extending the maximum operating period of nuclear reactors, which is now 40 years. Under Japanese laws, the lifespan can be prolonged to 60 years if a facility meets all the requirements and passes inspection.
Japan currently has 10 operating nuclear units, but only half of them generate power, while the rest are going through additional inspections. Nuclear energy covered up to 30% of Japan’s total energy demand before the 2011 Fukushima accident, when an earthquake and a tsunami caused the world’s second-largest nuclear accident after the Chernobyl disaster.
The Japanese government is now pushing for greater use of renewable energy, seeking to reduce carbon emissions, while also propelling “maximum” use of nuclear power by restarting power plants that have met the rigorous safety standards imposed after the disaster.
Experts say that several regions of Japan may face problems with electricity supply due to the rising prices for liquefied natural gas and unstable energy supplies. The upcoming heating season could be the most challenging for the country since 2012, when all nuclear power plants were shut down after the Fukushima accident.