Japan’s uncertain nuclear outlook

By Catriona Scott 19 January 2017
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Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station (Tepco) Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station (Tepco)

Japan’s central government and utilities are working towards recommissioning more of the country’s shuttered nuclear reactors this year. There are currently 20 reactors undergoing the safety and regulatory checks required to start back up. This is considerably more than are currently operational. Nearly six years after the earthquake and tsunami of March 2011 damaged the Fukushima nuclear power plant and resulted in the closure of Japan’s entire nuclear fleet, just three of the country’s reactors are operational.

The government is aiming to have nuclear power provide at least 20% of Japan’s electricity by 2030. This will require a considerable increase in operational reactors – nuclear power accounted for less than 1% of total electricity output in 2015. In an outlook for the 2017/2018 financial year, Japan’s Institute of Energy Economics (IEEJ) has three cases for nuclear restarts. In the high case, a total of 18 reactors will have restarted, in the base case it is 14 and in the low case just seven reactors will be operational by the end of March 2018.

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