Since Asia’s largest utility, Tokyo Electric Power Co.(TEPCO), shut down its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant(Figure-1) following a major earthquake last July,Japan’s nuclear-generated output has plummeted—and will stay low.

Reuters reported that TEPCO’s nuclear output was 79.2% lower this February than last year,and the Hokuriku Electric Power Co. announced recently that it expects to keep its sole nuclear plant closed for the business year ending in March 2008.So to meet swelling demand, the country that once derived 30% of its power needs from nuclear generation has offset that decline with fossil-fueled generation.Japan’s 10 main utilities have generated record-high amounts of electricity for seven months straight compared with last year.

Thermal generation was up 37.6%from February 2007, and last month, a Reuter’s survey found that the country’s 10 utilities will rely on 141 million barrels of oil in the business year starting April 1—a 50% increase from the volume purchased two years ago. The Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant has the fourth-largest generation capacity in the world, its seven reactors producing 8,212 MW collectively. Before its shutdown, the plant supplied 6% of Japan’s total power needs.

Tokyo Electric Power

The post-earthquake shutdown of Japan’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant is requiring a shift to fossil-fueled generation.

The plant was shut down after the July 16, 2007, offshore earthquake (whose
epicenter was only 11 miles away) caused a fire within and destroyed a transformer building. The Japanese trade ministry ordered plant operations halted indefinitely for ongoing safety checks.

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