JAPAN okio will build new nuclear power plants

The plan officially presented by Kishida supposes a 180 degree turn: the new generation reactors should come into operation in the 2030s. It also raises the possibility of extending the useful life of the existing plants without counting the years that they were closed later from Fukushima. At this time, 17 of the 33 nuclear reactors in Japan have received approval from government regulators to return to operation, a process that will be completed in the summer of 2023.

Tokyo () – More nuclear reactors in operation for longer. The Kishida government has made a decision that radically changes the energy landscape Japan, where all plants had been closed after the Fukushima disaster in 2011. Since then, no new nuclear reactors have been built in the country.

The nuclear power revival plan – announced at a press conference yesterday but previously leaked to the Japanese media – is the result of months of investigation by the Ministry of Economy, which has drawn up a plan to introduce new generation reactors in the country, which will be activated in the coming years. The new reactors, which are considered safer, should be built and put into operation in the 2030s. Details on the plan’s implementation, specific measures and timetable will be released before the end of the year.

The government is also considering extend the life of reactors already existing. Japanese law establishes that the reactors must be closed when they complete 40 years of operation; they can reach 60 if the facilities pass the controls and security improvements are made. Apparently the years after the closure of Fukushima can be subtracted from the age of the reactors.

There are numerous reasons why Kishida has made this historic decision, and the decarbonization of the economy is one of them. “Nuclear power and renewable energies are essential to proceed with the green transformation,” explained the prime minister. Japan aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 and has set a goal for 2030 to generate at least 20% of its energy consumption from nuclear sources.

A second reason, certainly more pressing, is the shortage of supplies. Since this spring, several areas of Japan have been at risk of blackouts on different occasions due to very low electricity production capacity compared to demand, which has been very high due to extremely high temperatures. The last reason, also highly topical, has to do with Tokyo’s dependence on imports to meet its energy needs. Japan has to import vast amounts of oil, coal and natural gas to produce electricity, and skyrocketing costs following the outbreak of war in Ukraine have weighed heavily on citizens and businesses. Reducing dependence on imports would also be a significant improvement for the country’s economic security.

So far only 17 of Japan’s 33 nuclear reactors have received approval from government regulators to restart them after Fukushima. Seven of them still do not have the green light from the local authorities, but the government wants them to be in operation before the summer of 2023. This nuclear reactivation, of which it was talked about in Tokyo for a long time, also seems to find broad support in the population. According to a survey conducted last month, 48.4% of Japanese people agree that nuclear power plants whose safety has been confirmed should be restarted. The opponents would be only 27.9%.

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