Japan to Restart 3rd Nuclear Reactor Under Post-Fukushima Rules

  • Kansai Electric plans to restart Takahama No. 3 unit on Friday
  • Restarts aid government target of nuclear's share in mix

Kansai Electric Power Co. plans to fire up the third nuclear reactor in Japan to clear post-Fukushima safety rules and overcome court challenges, boosting the government’s ambition to retain nuclear power as part of the nation’s energy mix.

The utility most dependent on nuclear power before the March 2011 Fukushima disaster plans to resume operations of the No. 3 unit at its Takahama plant near the ancient Japanese capital of Kyoto on Friday, the company said in a statement on Thursday. It said earlier this week that it planned to begin refueling the No. 4 unit at Takahama on Jan. 31.

Operations at Takahama were suspended in the aftermath of the massive earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 that caused a meltdown at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi facility.

More nuclear-powered electricity generation will help reduce Japan’s import bill for fossil fuels and lead to lower electricity rates for consumers. The restart will also help the the government reach its goal of having nuclear power make up as much as 22 percent of the nation’s energy needs by 2030.

Court challenges prevented a resumption of operations at Takahama even after it received approval from the Nuclear Regulatory Authority in February. A district court in December removed an injunction preventing the restart.

Profit Boost

Restarting both units will boost Kansai Electric’s profits by as much as 12.5 billion yen ($105 million) a month, according to Syusaku Nishikawa, a Tokyo-based analyst at Daiwa Securities Co. The two reactors at the Takahama facility, about 60 kilometers (37 miles) north of Kyoto, were commissioned in 1985 and have a combined capacity of 1,740 megawatts.

Kyushu Electric Power Co. restarted its Sendai No. 1 and No. 2 units on Japan’s southern island of Kyushu in August. They were the first in the nation to clear the regulator’s safety standards, receive local approval and resume operations under the post-Fukushima rules. Shikoku Electric Power Co.’s Ikata No. 3 facility is slated to begin operating this year after receiving NRA and local approvals.