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Japan Loads the World’s Biggest Nuclear Reactor With Fuel

Japan's Tokyo Electric Power Co. has loaded its biggest nuclear power plant, Kashiwazaki Kariwa, with fuel for the first time since the Fukushima disaster, Bloomberg has reported.

The move is part of a nuclear power return on the Japanese scene after the 2011 tragedy, which saw all nuclear reactors in the country turned off. But the restart of the Kashiwasaki Kariwa, which is the biggest nuclear power generator in the world, is not yet guaranteed. The plan has to get the go-ahead from the Niigata prefecture's governor and this go-ahead is not guaranteed.

The 8.2 GW Kashiwasaki Kariwa plant was turned off in 2012 but that was not the only thing that happened to it. Back in 2021, Tepco was banned from operating the plant by the Nuclear Regulation Authority, after safety protocol breaches were detected, among them failure to protect nuclear materials, according to a Reuters report from last December.

It was in December that the Japanese authorities lifted the operational ban, citing improvements in the treatment of safety issues at Kashiwasaki Kariwa.

Japan is bringing back nuclear power as a key energy source, looking to protect its energy security in the wake of the 2022 energy crisis that led to surging oil and gas prices.

The resource-poor country which needs to import about 90% of the energy it consumes, made a U-turn in its nuclear energy policy at the end of 2022, as its energy import bill soared amid the energy crisis and surging costs to import LNG at record-high prices.

The Japanese government confirmed in December 2022 a new policy for nuclear energy, which the country had mostly abandoned since the Fukushima disaster in 2011. A panel of experts under the Japanese Ministry of Industry has also decided that Japan would allow the development of new nuclear reactors and allow available reactors to operate after the current limit of 60 years.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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Charles Kennedy

Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com More

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