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The Ohi nuclear power station in Japan. Japan’s nuclear regulator on Wednesday approved plans to decommission the Ohi-1 and Ohi-2 nuclear power plants in Fukui Prefecture, southwest Japan, a move their operator said is down to the high cost of implementing post-Fukushima safety upgrades.

Kansai Electric Power Company said it will spend about $1.1bn to dismantle the two 1,120-MW pressurised water rector units, with work expected to be completed in the fiscal year ending March 2049.

In December 2017, the utility announced plans to scrap the two units, citing the high cost of implementing safety measures introduced after the March 2011 Fukushima-Daiichi accident. Kansai Electric submitted the decommissioning plan to the regulator November 2018.

Ohi-1 began commercial operation in March 1979 and Ohi-2 in December 1979. They were permanently shut down in March 2018.

Twenty-seven of Japan’s 42 commercial nuclear units have been designated for decommissioning and plans for the decommissioning of 11 have now been approved by the regulator.

The other nine are Genkai-1 (Kyushu Electric Power Company); Hamaoka-1 and -2 (Chubu Electric Power Company); Ikata-1 (Shikoku Electric Power Company); Mihama-1 and -2 (Kansai Electric Power Company); Shimane-1 (Chugoku Electric Power Company); Tokai-2 and Tsuruga-1 (Japan Atomic Power Company).

Another nine units are already undergoing decommissioning. They are the Fugen prototype advanced thermal reactor, Fukushima Units 1 to 6, the JPDR demonstration unit and the Monju prototype fast breeder reactor.

Japan has a total of 62 nuclear power units, but shut down all 42 reactors that were operating at the time after the Fukushima-Daiichi accident. Thirty-three units have a licence to operate although before units return to service they need to meet stricter safety standards introduced following Fukushima-Daiichi.

Nine units have returned to service. They are Genkai-3 and -4, Ikata-3, Ohi-3 and -4, Sendai-1 and -2, and Takahama-3 and -4.

Two units – the Ohma and Shimane-3 advanced boiling water reactor units – are under construction.

According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the country’s nuclear share in 2018 was about 6.2%. Before Fukushima, Japan generated about 30% of its electricity from nuclear and planned to increase that to 40%.

A recent energy white paper adopted by the Cabinet called for further efforts to cut carbon emissions by keeping to a nuclear generation target of 20% to 22%.

Date: Thursday, 12 December 2019
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