Government sees reactors as key element of energy strategy
The Takahama-2 nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture, western Japan, has been restarted for the first time since 2011 – the 12th unit to be restarted in the country since the Fukushima disaster in 2011.
Owner and operator Kansai Electric Power said the 780-MW pressurised water reactor (PWR) unit, which originally began commercial operation in 1975, had been restarted on Friday (15 September).
The utility plans to restart power generation on Wednesday before resuming commercial operations on 16 October.
The restart means the Osaka-based utility has resumed operating all of its seven reactors, including four at Takahama, after stricter safety standards were introduced following the crisis at Fukushima-Daiichi, triggered by an earthquake and tsunami.
Takahama-2 is the second-oldest nuclear plant in Japan after Takahama-1, which began commercial operation in 1974. Takahama-1, also a 780-MW PWR, was restarted in July after a 12-year halt.
Takahama-3 and Takahama-4, both 830-MW PWRs, were returned to commercial operation in February 2016 and June 2017 respectively.
In April, Kansai Electric asked Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) for permission to extend the lifespan of Takahama-3 and Takahama-4 by 20 years, potentially keeping them online until 2045.
The restart of the plants comes as prime minister Fumio Kishida’s government wants nuclear power generation to play a greater role in efforts to cut carbon emissions and ensure stable sources of energy.
Parliament in May enacted a bill to allow nuclear reactors in the country to be operated beyond the current limit of 60 years.
All the country’s commercial reactors were shut down following the Fukushima disaster and are not allowed to restart until they have passed stringent new safety checks.
Before Fukushima-Daiichi, Japan’s fleet of 54 nuclear plants generated about 30% of the country’s electricity. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency that figure was 7.2% in 2021.
Among the 33 operable nuclear reactors in Japan, 12 have now resumed operations after meeting post-Fukushima safety standards.
The restarted plants are: Sendai-1 and -2, Genkai-3 and -4, Ikata-3, Mihama-3, Ohi-3 and -4 and Takahama-1, -2, -3 and -4.