Today Kyushu Electric Power Co. restarted its No. 1 reactor at its Sendai nuclear plant in Kagoshima Prefecture. This is the first nuclear reactor to restart in Japan since the Fukushima disaster in 2011. Since then all of Japan’s nuclear plants have been closed, or their operation has been suspended for safety inspections.
After spending about $100 million, Sendai nuclear reactors 1 and 2 were both cleared by Japan’s NRA safety examinations and met new post-Fukushima regulatory standards. Unit 2 is expected to restart in October.
Another 20 reactors are in various stages of the restart process and Japan’s government plans to bring the share of nuclear generation to 20-22 percent by 2030.
Japan has been struggling with energy shortages and the nation has had to import greater amounts of expensive natural gas and coal to meet its energy needs.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has pushed for a return to nuclear energy, arguing it is essential to the country’s economic recovery to reduce the skyrocketing utility bills associated with energy imports.
Prior to the Fukushima disaster, about 30% of Japan’s energy was nuclear generated and was a national strategic priority.