17 August 2016

Ikata‑3 Restarted—Only Three Reactors Operate in Japan

Ikata-3 Restarted—Only Three Reactors Operate in Japan

17 August 2016

On 15 August 2016, unit 3 of the Ikata nuclear power plant in the Ehime Prefecture, Japan, was reconnected to the grid. The 846 MW Pressurized Water Reactor (PWR) had been offline for over five years—it was shut down on 29 April 2011, following the Fukushima Daiichi catastrophe. Operator Shikoku Electric Power Company had received the operating approval by the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA), according to new, post-311 guidelines, on 18 May 2016 (see also Japanese Nuclear Reactor Status). Ikata-3 operates with a portion of plutonium-uranium mixed oxide (MOX) fuel in the core.

Prior to the Ikata-3 restart, there were only the two Sendai reactors, operated by Kyushu Electric Power Company in Kagoshima Prefecture, generating power for the Japanese grid. The four Takahama units, owned by Kansai Electric Power Company, have also received NRA restart licenses. Takahama-3, was restarted in October 2015, while Takahama-4 failed grid connection late February 2016 due to technical problems. In March 2016, both Takahama units were ordered by court to be shut down for safety reasons (see Japan Focus for details). This leaves 35 Japanese reactors in Long Term Outage (LTO), as they have not generated any power for the entire year 2015 and none in 2016 so far.

In 2015, the only two then operating nuclear reactors contributed 0.5 percent of Japan’s electricity production. It is remarkable to note—and little noticed!—that Japan succeeded in less than five years to substitute 56 percent of its 2010 nuclear power generation: 42 percent were simply saved away and renewables displaced another 14 percent.