Japan set to close down last nuclear reactor

Japan is feeling the absence of its reactors in everything from threatened power shortages to strained power grids.

Tokyo: Japan`s last running nuclear reactor is scheduled to shut down on Saturday, resulting in the complete shutdown of 50-strong reactors in the country, leaving it without nuclear power for the first time since 1966.

It is unclear for how long the reactors will be closed. Most of the country`s reactors had been closed down for routine maintenance, but then left offline while their safety was being reviewed, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Meanwhile, Japan is feeling the absence of its reactors in everything from threatened power shortages and electric-rate increases to strained power grids.

Japan’s Government is making efforts to restart two units in western Japan before energy demand rose during summer, which produced roughly 30 percent of the country’s electricity, stay offline.

Owing to fears about safety, local communities had demanded the shutdown of reactors after last year’s devastating accident in Fukushima.

Before the Fukushima accident, Japan’s energy policy called for a ``nuclear-powered nation`` encouraging the funding of new reactors and that had planned as many as 40 percent of its electricity from atomic energy by 2030.

Post Fukushima, the agency pulled its nuclear-energy policy from its website, and the government said that was hoping to come up with a new policy this summer.
Japan’s ruling party has said that it was now aiming to reduce the country’s dependence on nuclear energy.

Some of Japan’s older reactors, or those situated in the most earthquake-prone spots, may never get approval to restart.

Japan is now purchasing gas and oil to make up for the loss of nuclear energy, and had bought JPY 4.7 trillion worth of liquefied natural gas in 2011, one-third more than in the previous year.

Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco), the operator of the Fukushima Daiichi plant and one of the earliest utilities to feel the crunch from the loss of its reactors, has asked its maintenance crews to speed things by working double shifts to meet up to the demand.


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