Japan's Chubu Electric Power Company decided today to build a new power reactor as a more economic option than modifying two older units.
Chubu operates a range of power plants, including coal, gas, oil and hydro alongside just one nuclear power site, Hamaoka. However, the site hosts five reactors and is Chubu's largest single generating station.
The two oldest reactors at Hamaoka, numbers 1 and 2, have generated 540 MWe and 840 MWe respectively since starting up in 1973 and 1978 but these now require modification to meet seismic standards imposed after the July 2007 Niigata Chuetsu offshore earthquake. This would take "considerable expense and time," concluded a Chubu statement, which went on to say that the company is already facing a loss of ¥155 billion ($1.7 billion) to the end of March 2009 for the prolonged of reactors 1 and 2.
Now, instead of modifying the reactors, Chubu will terminate operations there and build a new reactor instead. The company wants the new unit to start operating in 2018 on the eastern side of the site.
At the same time, Chubu is going to build a dry storage facility to contain used nuclear fuel for all the Hamaoka reactors and this should operate from 2016.
Chubu said in a statement: "We recognise this form of power [nuclear] needs to be prioritized, since there are growing expectations on the role it serves, both in providing a stable power supply and benefiting the global environment."
Chubu have not said which reactor design would be used to replace the lost generation capacity, with this likely to be determined after a bidding process. New power reactor designs available now produce between 1100 and 1600 MWe.