Japan needs about 35 working nuclear reactors by 2030 to achieve the government’s long-term energy strategy to return the country’s dependence on nuclear energy to slightly under the level it was before the 2011 Fukushima disaster.
That many would be required for nuclear energy to provide between 20 and 22 percent of the country’s electricity, said industry minister Yoichi Miyazawa at a Lower House committee session on economy and industry.
Currently, there are 43 nuclear reactors in Japan with three more under construction, but none are actually operating.
After the Fukushima nuclear disaster in March 2011, the government limited the operational life of nuclear power reactors to a maximum of 40 years in principle, with an extension of up to 20 years in exceptional cases.
If the 40-year principle was to be strictly applied to all the existing reactors, there will be only 23 operative reactors in 2030, meaning that 10 or so reactors would have to have their lifespans extended in order to reach the power target.
The three new reactors include those at two new nuclear power plants in Aomori Prefecture, Electric Power Development Co.’s Oma plant and Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Higashidori plant, while the other is the third reactor at Chugoku Electric Power Co.’s Shimane plant in Shimane Prefecture.
Japan has strengthened safety measures against severe nuclear accidents and limited the operational lifespan of reactors through revisions of the nuclear reactor regulatory law, Ambassador Mitsuru Kitano told an executive meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna on June 10.
It was Japan’s responsibility to share the experiences and lessons of the Fukushima disaster with other IAEA member nations, added Kitano, who is ambassador of the Permanent Mission of Japan to the International Organizations in Vienna.
At the meeting, the international nuclear watchdog unveiled its report on the Fukushima disaster, which will be officially released at its general meeting in September.
The report pointed out that blind trust in nuclear safety has prevented plant operator TEPCO from taking sufficient preparatory measures against tsunami and other natural disasters, while the government and its nuclear watchdog also failed to demand TEPCO take necessary safety steps prior to the accident.
While Kitano declined to comment on the government’s opinion on the safety of nuclear power plants at the time the accident took place, he emphasized that Japan created a new nuclear watchdog, the Nuclear Regulation Authority, in 2012 to ensure its independence from the nuclear industry.
Filed under: 8.Eathquake & Nuclear accident