The suspension of Japan's largest nuclear power station in the wake of July's earthquake is hitting the country's greenhouse gas emissions as well as its operator's results.
Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) has released interim results showing a net income of 21.2 billion yen ($184 million) for the first half of fiscal 2007 (1 April-30 September 2007), down 88% on the same period for 2006. The company blames the fall on an extraordinary loss of 175.1 billion yen ($1.6 billion) from the current estimate of the inspection and restoration costs at Kashiwazaki Kariwa, which has been offline since the earthquake of 16 July. Tepco's ordinary expenses also increased due to rising fuel costs and the need to purchase electricity to replace the 8000 MWe station's output. However, electricity sales increased thanks to increasing demand from the large industrial power sector and the increase in air-conditioning demand cased by the summer heatwave.
At the time of the quake, three of the seven reactors at Kashiwazaki Kariwa were in operation, one was in the process of starting operation, and three were offline undergoing periodic inspections. The operating reactors all shut down safely, but all the reactors remain offline while extensive checks are carried out before they can resume operations. The recent discovery of a jammed control rod in the reactor of unit 7 is likely to add to the delay. In total, Tepco projects the impact of the quake on its FY2007 results to be some 603.5 billion yen ($5.2 billion), 440 billion yen coming from fuel costs and the remaining 163.5 billion yen from restoration expenses.
The loss of Kashiwazaki Kariwa's greenhouse gas-free generating capacity coupled with the increased electricity demand during the summer heatwave will have a detrimental effect on Japan's attempts to curb its greenhouse gas emissions. Preliminary figures from Japan's environment ministry, reported in the Japanese press, suggest that although emissions declined in fiscal 2006 relative to 2005, the figures for the first quarter of FY2007 (before the earthquake) already show a marked increase on previous years. The ministry, according to reports, thinks it "highly likely" that 2007 emissions will exceed those of 2006, thanks to the effects of the suspension of Kashiwazaki Kariwa and the summer heatwave.
Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco)
WNA's Nuclear Power in Japan information paper
WNA's Nuclear Power Plants and Earthquakes information paper
WNA's Earthquakes and Nuclear Safety microsite
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