Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda approved the restart of reactors 3 and 4 at the Oi nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture, owned by Kansai Electric Power Company. This is the first plant to come online after the total shutdown from last month, which left Japan with zero nuclear contribution to the power grid.
The Japanese government finally realized that they can’t do without nuclear – at least not for the moment. The country’s 50 nuclear reactors only provide 30 percent of the energy mix, but if it wasn’t for nuclear, they would have used coal power plants.
Recent news showed that the grid companies from Japan imported 40 percent more coal from the United States in the first months of 2012 than they did in the same period of 2011.
Despite the renewed vow to nuclear energy, the Japanese government is now forcing utilities to pay feed-in tariffs to clean energy producers, for providing an incentive for at least 20 years.
“It does indicate there’s a return of confidence to a certain extent,” says Andrew Sherry , director of the Dalton Nuclear Institute at the University of Manchester, UK, quoted by newscientist. “How strong it is, I don’t know, but I think people recognise the need for an energy mix, and nuclear provides a low-carbon component of that.”
2.36 gigawatts will be added to Japan’s electricity grid by the restart of the two reactors at the beginning of July.