This week, the Japanese Nuclear Regulation Authority gave its final approval to Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s two-reactor Sendai nuclear plant, saying it had cleared new safety standards put into place after the Fukushima meltdown.
Kyushu Electric said it would start one reactor in July and the other in September.
Before the 2011 disaster when an earthquake and tsunami triggered a nuclear meltdown in the Fukushima Daiichi plant, 30 percent of Japan’s energy was generated by 48 nuclear reactors.
The reactors have been dormant since, and in their wake there have been a number of proposals for offshore wind and floating solar installations.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe even set a target of making floating offshore wind technology viable by 2018. And in 2013, he said that the country was working to develop 7MW-class wind turbines that would tower 200 meters high. The Japan Wind Power Association has estimated that the country has around 782 GW of wind power potential. As reported by CleanTechnica, in February, Marubeni Corporation won a contract to develop two offshore wind parks that should be operation by 2021 with the potential for 145 MW of power.
Nonetheless, Japan’s prime minister still remains committed to nuclear. The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said in April that it anticipates nuclear will account for as much as 22 percent of the country’s total electricity by 2030.
Not everyone in Japan is enthusiastic about restarting nuclear. In April, a panel of judges with the Fukui District Court issued an injunction preventing Kansai Electric Power Co. from moving ahead with plans to resume operations of its nuclear plant, saying that the new safety standards were too lax for the two reactors at the utility’s Takahama station. The company appealed the ruling, but earlier this month, the district court rejected the appeal.
Others are also speaking out against nuclear. Kobe University professor and seismologist Katsuhiko Ishibashi told the Japan Times that the nuclear regulator ignored its own rules and earthquake risks when it approved the Sendai plant. And last year, after the Sendai plant passed the NRA’s first round of safety requirements, over 16,000 activists protested.