Japan Nuclear Power Prospects Pessimistic

Japan Nuclear Power Prospects Pessimistic

The number of Japanese nuclear reactors likely to restart in the next few years has halved, hit by legal challenges and worries about meeting tougher safety standards imposed in the wake of the Fukushima disaster.
The country has been inching back to nuclear energy, turning on its first reactor in mid-August after a two-year blackout, a Reuters analysis shows.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and many in the industry are looking to cut fuel bills despite widespread public opposition to atomic power.
But the analysis shows that of the other 42 operable reactors remaining in the country, just seven are likely to be turned on in the next few years, down from the 14 predicted in a similar survey last year.
The findings are based on reactor inspection data from industry watchdog the Nuclear Regulation Authority, court rulings and interviews with local authorities, utilities and energy experts. They also show that nine reactors are unlikely to ever restart and that the fate of the remaining 26 looks uncertain.
"Four-and-a-half years after the events started unfolding at Fukushima Daiichi, the Japanese government, the nuclear utilities and NRA have not succeeded in overcoming complete planning insecurity for investors. The outlook for restarts is as cloudy as ever," said Mycle Schneider, an independent energy consultant in Paris.
Japan's utilities have been burning liquefied natural gas in record quantities to make up for lost nuclear capacity, bolstering international markets for the fuel.
Legal challenges from local residents have hit all atomic plants, with the country's most nuclear-reliant utility Kansai Electric Power issued with court rulings preventing the restart of four reactors despite two of them already receiving NRA approval to switch on.
Kansai has appealed the judgments but the court cases may take years to resolve if the rulings are not overturned on the first appeal.


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