New Japanese nuclear power reactors delayed

26 March 2008

Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) announced that the start of operation of four new nuclear power reactors would be delayed, while Electric Power Development Co (J-Power) said the start of construction of its Ohma plant had been postponed again.

Tepco said that the start of commercial operation of four new nuclear power plants would be postponed by one year due to the incorporation of new earthquake resistance assessments. The company said that units 7 and 8 of the Fukushima Daiichi plant would now enter commercial operation on October 2014 and October 2015, respectively. Unit 1 of the Higashidori plant is now scheduled to begin operating in December 2015, while unit 2 will start up in fiscal 2018 or later.

Tepco's Kashiwazaki Kariwa nuclear power plant in Niigata prefecture has been shut since being damaged by a magnitude 6.8 earthquake on 16 July 2007. The company has since restarted decommissioned thermal plants to make up for the shortfall in nuclear generation. According to Bloomberg, Tepco expects to post its first loss in 28 years because of higher fuel costs. The company has set aside Y440 billion ($4.4 billion) for additional oil and liquefied natural gas costs in the year to 31 March. Tepco earlier estimated a net loss of Y155 billion ($1.5 billion) for this financial year, compared with a profit of Y298 billion ($3 billion) in the previous financial year.

Tepco said that it will speed up construction of coal- and gas-fired power plants in order to avoid a supply shortfall due to new nuclear power units being delayed. Under a business management plan announced today, the company will complete the construction of a 1000 MW coal-fire unit at Hitachinaka in Ibaraki prefecture and a 600 MW coal-fired unit at Hirono in Fukushima prefecture in fiscal 2013, one year ahead of schedule. In addition, Tepco will bring the first line of the second liquefied natural gas-fired plant at Kawasaki in Kanagawa prefecture into operation in 2013, some four years ahead of schedule.

Meanwhile, J-Power has filed a document with the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) to delay the start of construction of the Ohma nuclear power plant to May 2008. The start of construction had already been delayed in August 2007. The company said that the delay was due to prolonged seismic safety examination by the Nuclear Safety Commission (NSC).

Although the start of construction of the Ohma plant has now been delayed by some two years from the originally planned date, J-Power still aims to begin commercial operation of the plant in March 2012, possibly by speeding up construction work.