– The Japanese government on Monday proposed action plans to keep some nuclear reactors running beyond the current 60-year limit amid the country’s changing policy on nuclear power as a solution to power supply shortages.
Despite the limited lifespan of the reactors, officials are working on a scheme that would allow some facilities to operate longer, according to a document released by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.
Specific measures will be taken to rebuild the nuclear power plants that have been decided to be abolished, and under the current law, the maximum operation period of 60 years can be extended, the ministry said.
The country plans to continue the development and construction of an innovative next-generation reactor incorporating a new safety mechanism, it said.
A draft of the plan was presented to the Atomic Energy Subcommittee of the Natural Resources and Energy Advisory Committee, an advisory body to the Ministry of Commerce, on Monday, while the final decision will be made at the green transformation (GX) implementation meeting of the government at the end of the year.
After the 2011 earthquake tsunami disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, the operational life of Japan’s nuclear reactors was limited to 40 years, under stricter safety protocols.
However, to extend the life of a reactor by another 20 years, the government has made it possible for some of these idle reactors to be brought back online, provided they implement safety updates and pass safety tests by regulators.
In August, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said the government was considering building next-generation nuclear reactors and also aimed to restart seven more idle reactors starting next summer.
The prime minister also discussed extending the operational life of nuclear power plants by not including periods when they were shut down while under review by the Nuclear Regulatory Authority, which could raise concerns.
Japan has set a target for nuclear power generation to account for 20 to 22 percent of its electricity supply in fiscal 2030, and the government has been considering expanding nuclear power again after extreme weather and global fuel shortages will affect the country’s energy supplies. ■