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FY 2011 Japan nuclear reactor operating rate falls to record low 23.7%.

TOKYO, April 6 Kyodo

The operating rate of Japan's 54 commercial nuclear reactors fell to a record low 23.7 percent in fiscal 2011 through March 31 from 67.3 percent in fiscal 2010, with only one reactor in Hokkaido currently in operation, the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum said in a recent report.

The capacity utilization ratio hit the lowest level since comparable data became available in fiscal 1971 due to the prolonged suspension of reactors for checkups following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear crisis triggered by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

The previous record low was 41.8 percent logged in fiscal 1977, data compiled by the Japan Nuclear Energy Safety Organization show. Over the past 40 years, the annual operating rate of Japan's nuclear reactors has averaged 71.8 percent.

In March alone, the operating rate reached a new record low of 4.2 percent, down from 6.1 percent in February.

The No. 6 reactor at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s seven-unit Kashiwazaki-Kariwa complex in Niigata Prefecture on the Sea of Japan coast halted operations in late March for safety checks, leaving only the No. 3 unit of the Tomari plant in Hokkaido operational. But the operation of the Hokkaido reactor will also be suspended for a routine checkup on May 5.

The government is in the process of working to reactivate two reactors at Kansai Electric Power Co.'s Oi power plant in Fukui Prefecture, amid dim prospects that local governments will consent to their restart.

Since the Fukushima crisis, no reactor has resumed operating after shutdown for routine inspection. None have resumed operating even after undergoing stress tests introduced after last year's disaster to examine the ability of nuclear plants to withstand major earthquakes and tsunami similar to those which caused the Fukushima catastrophe.

The 54 reactors include four at the six-reactor Fukushima Daiichi complex that TEPCO plans to decommission following the nuclear disaster.

The overall operating rate indicates the volume of power generated as a percentage of the theoretical maximum aggregate of power that atomic power plants can produce in a given period.
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Publication:Japan Energy Scan
Geographic Code:9JAPA
Date:Apr 9, 2012
Words:349
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