Kishida presses to have up to 9 N-reactors on line for winter

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaks at a press conference at the Prime Minister’s Office in Tokyo on Thursday.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Thursday he has issued an order to have up to nine nuclear reactors up and running this winter to assure a stable power supply.

Kishida, speaking at a press conference at the Prime Minister’s Office, announced he has instructed Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Koichi Hagiuda to move forward with efforts to get up to nine reactors at nuclear power plants back on line.

“We will make all efforts to ensure a stable supply of electricity, not only this winter but also for the future, by taking every measure available,” he said.

At present, a total of five nuclear power reactors are in operation across the nation, including two at Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Sendai plant in Kagoshima Prefecture.

Of the others, the No. 4 reactor of Kyushu Electric Power’s Genkai nuclear plant will suspend operation from September after an antiterrorism facility was not completed in time.

Meanwhile, five reactors that are off line for periodic inspection or other reasons will be able to be restarted this winter, bringing the total able to operate at that time to nine at most.

It appears that the prime minister brought up the operation of nuclear reactors at the press conference as a means to emphasize the importance of making progress on the restart of the reactors to avoid straining the power grid this winter.

Adding the nine units to the power supply is expected to secure the equivalent of about 10% of the nation’s total electricity consumption.

Kishida also wants to increase output from thermal power plants, ordering the supply capacity equivalent of a further 10 generators. He aims to increase supply by requiring electric power companies restart idled thermal power plants.

To ensure a stable supply of electricity, a reserve margin — the amount of excess power supply over demand — of at least 3% is necessary, but the supply-demand balance is expected to fall below that level this winter.

In January next year, the reserve is expected to drop to 1.5% in areas serviced by Tohoku Electric Power Co. and Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., and to 1.9% in those handled by Kansai Electric Power Co., Kyushu Electric Power and four other companies.