Japan goes nuclear to stay calm during Summer Olympics
- Nuclear restarts are accelerating
- Meteorological office issues heatstroke warnings
- Japan wants to avoid a repeat of the winter crisis
TOKYO, July 20 (Reuters) – Japan has restarted additional power plants, including a long-dormant nuclear reactor, and taken other steps to avert an energy crisis as temperatures soar and demand for cooling surges, especially in Tokyo, where the Olympics begin on Friday.
With the world’s eyes on Tokyo as it hosts the Summer Games amid concerns over the risks posed by the coronavirus pandemic, Japan wants to prevent the electricity crisis experienced during the winter from happening again , when power companies urged customers to ration usage to avoid power outages. Read more
Earlier this month, Kansai Electric Power (9503.T) restarted another reactor, the fifth to be restarted in Japan since January, including a 44-year-old unit that had been shut down for ten years.
Japan has nine reactors in operation, the highest number since the Fukushima atomic disaster that shut down Japan’s nuclear industry. Read more
A gas-fired power station and a coal-fired power station were also commissioned earlier than expected.
The increase in production capacity gave the Ministry of Industry assurance that the electricity supply would be sufficient.
“We are not worried about the electricity supply during the summer as the restarts of additional power plants have increased the capacity,” Yuri Ito, deputy director of the ministry’s electricity supply policy office, told Reuters. Of the industry.
Japan’s electricity grid faced periods of intense stress in the decade following the Fukushima disaster, and the government introduced more competition to the sector and more renewables into the mix.
But Japan still relies heavily on fossil fuels, especially liquefied natural gas (LNG) and coal, which must be imported.
Adding to the pressures on the sector, many old petroleum and coal-fired power plants are closed in Japan as liberalization forces cost reductions, and the pressure to reduce CO2 emissions makes them unsustainable.
The Industry Ministry warned in May of the risk of power cuts during peak summer demand and asked utilities to guarantee adequate production capacity as well as LNG stocks.
LNG stocks stood at around 2 million tonnes at the end of June, about 100,000 tonnes more than the average for the past four years, Ito said.
As the summer wore on, some tightening in supply was evident as spot electricity prices for the Tokyo area doubled this month.
On Tuesday, the country’s meteorological office issued heatstroke alerts for the fourth day in a row. At noon, the temperature in Tokyo was 34 degrees Celsius, and there is a forecast for a hotter-than-usual summer.
The Japanese Grid Monitor (OCCTO) estimates excess generation capacity in the Tokyo area at 5% for July and 3.9% for August. Excess capacity of less than 3% could lead to supply shortages and possibly even blackouts.
OCCTO has launched a new monitoring program using LNG inventory data from major producers to assess the amount of electricity supply that might be available during peak demand periods and help anticipate fuel shortages.
“It’s still a testing phase, but we want to improve its accuracy and clarity before the more serious winter season,” said an OCCTO official.
Reporting by Yuka Obayashi; Written by Aaron Sheldrick; Editing by Gavin Maguire and Simon Cameron-Moore
Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.