Japan Utilities’ Thermal Power Output Rises to Record in January

Japanese electric utilities’ output from fossil-fuel thermal plants rose to a record in January as the country’s nuclear stations remain shut in the wake of the Fukushima disaster.

The nation’s 10 power utilities generated 65.54 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity at their thermal plants in January, the Federation of Electric Power Cos. said in a statement today. That’s a record since the industry group started compiling the data in April 1972, according to the FEPC.

All of Japan’s 48 operable reactors are shut for inspections, with no fixed date for restarting them after the Fukushima nuclear accident in March 2011. Japan, which imports almost 100 percent of its energy resources, is relying on thermal power generation to fill the void left by the shutdowns.

The 10 power companies consumed 5.66 million metric tons of coal in January, a record for the month and 12 percent more than a year earlier, according to the FEPC. Liquefied natural gas usage fell 0.8 percent to 5.12 million metric tons.

The utilities generated or purchased 85.34 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity in January, 0.7 percent less than a year earlier as warmer temperatures reduced heating demand, the FEPC said. They had no output from nuclear power plants during the month after the country’s last operating reactor was shut in September.

Chubu Electric Power Co. applied last week for the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s safety review on one of three reactors at Hamaoka plant in Shizuoka prefecture. That makes eight power companies seeking the regulator’s review on 17 nuclear reactors.

None of the safety checks would be completed by the end of March 31, Shunichi Tanaka, the chairman of the NRA, said at a press conference on Feb. 12, according to notes on the regulator’s website. Japan may restart 10 units this year, according to the median of 11 analyst estimated compiled by Bloomberg in January.

The following table shows Japanese utilities’ consumption and purchases of fuel oil, crude, LNG and coal in January. Fuel oil and crude volumes are in kiloliters, while those for LNG and coal are in tons.

                January 2014     Change Y-o-Y

Coal            5,659,060         12.3%
Fuel oil        1,522,315        -13.8%
Crude oil       1,344,232         7.4%
LNG             5,119,549        -0.8%

Coal            5,825,530         40.8%
Fuel oil        1,534,893        -8.4%
Crude oil       1,159,364        -7.8%
LNG             5,198,204        -2.3%
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