Closure of Kansai Electric Reactors Signal that Nuclear Power has NO FUTURE IN JAPANーーAbe government must revise 2030 energy target
RELEASE ENERGY 2017.10.17

Closure of Kansai Electric Reactors Signal that Nuclear Power has NO FUTURE IN JAPANーーAbe government must revise 2030 energy target

Tokyo, 17 October…Nikkei newspaper has reported that Kansai Electric Power Co. has decided to permanently close the Ohi 1&2 reactors is a signal that there is no future for nuclear power in Japan, Greenpeace said today.(1) The likely decision also exposes further the deep flaw in the Government’s 2030 energy mix target of securing 20-22 percent of nuclear power. The two reactors which are 40 and 39 years old, have been shutdown since 2011. Kansai Electric would soon have had to apply to the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) to operate the reactors beyond their forty year limit. With a likely investment cost of over 100 billion [*1]required to meet regulations, the utility has opted to abandon plans for restart. The other factor is that since electricity liberalization in April 2016, Kansai Electric has lost market share to new competitors, with electricity sales down 20 percent in 2016 over 2010 [*1].
Kansai Electric has denied that a decision has been made to close the reactors.[*2]

The utility is seeking to restart the Ohi 3 & 4 reactors, which are located on Wakasa bay in Fukui in western Japan. The restart plans are subject to lawsuits which are seeking their closure, with the principal issue being the major seismic risks at the site. Former NRA deputy chair Kunihiko Shimazaki testified in April 2017 in a court case against the Ohi nuclear plant in Fukui prefecture. Shimazeki, an emeritus professor of seismology at Tokyo University and the only seismologist to have been an NRA commissioner during his period in office from 2012-2014, has challenged the formulas used by the regulator in computing the scale of earthquakes, which he believes underestimates potential seismic impact by factor of 3.5 at the Ohi site.

The Japanese government is currently reviewing its Basic Energy Plan, which is based on the operation of 30-35 reactors in 2030. Greenpeace analysis in 2015 projected that a more credible scenario was between 2-8 percent of electricity being generated from nuclear reactors.[*3]

“This will be two less nuclear threats to the people of Fukui and the millions of people in the Kansai region. However, their plans to move ahead with Ohi 3&4 restart ignores the scientific evidence of major earthquake risks and should also be scrapped,” said Shaun Burnie, nuclear specialist at Greenpeace Germany (current in Tokyo). “Kansai Electric is waking up to reality that its large nuclear power plants are too expensive to operate and neither needed or wanted by the people of Japan. The Government needs to urgently review its plans to maintain its unrealistic nuclear target for electricity generation in 2030. The future for Japan’s energy system must and will be based on renewable energy technology of the 21st century not hazardous nuclear technology from the last,” said Burnie.

Kansai Electric will make a final announcement this winter following discussions with the local communities in Fukui. There are currently four reactors operating in Japan (Ikata 3 is shut for maintenance and refuelling). Japan generated 14.5TWh of electricity in 2016 from nuclear power equal to 2.15 percent of its national generation.[*4]

Contacts:

Shaun Burnie, Senior Nuclear Specialist, Greenpeace Germany, sburnie@greenpeace.org, +81 (0)80-3694-2843 (Currently based in Japan)

Greenpeace International Press Desk, pressdesk.int@greenpeace.org, +31 (0) 20 718 2470 (available 24 hours)

Notes

1 _ See Nikkei Asian Review

2 – Kansai Electric Power Co.

3 – 2015 Greenpeace briefing paper [Energy Mix 2030]

4 – World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2017

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