There is a common misconception that Japan is not operating any nuclear reactors right now. The fact is they have two 1,180-megawatt reactors running at full capacity at Kansai Electric Power Co’s Ohi plant in western Japan.
Considering the country has a fleet of 50 reactors you might wonder whether these two reactors, that were restarted last summer, make that much of a difference. Well here are some useful figures I came across in a Bloomberg article just last week that puts things into perspective:
• Japan’s ten regional power utilities used 1.09 million kiloliters of fuel oil, 13 percent less than a year earlier (Federation of Electric Power Cos.)
• During the same period, crude demand fell 7.3 percent to about 846,000 kiloliters (Federation of Electric Power Cos.)
This table shows Japanese utilities’ consumption and purchases of fuel oil, crude, LNG and coal in July. Fuel oil and crude volumes are in kiloliters, while those for LNG and coal are in tons.
Source: The Federation of Electric Power Cos. of Japan
Since Fukushima, Japan has had no option but to purchase colossal amounts of fossil fuels. The result is the country once known for huge trade surpluses has run a trade deficit for 13 consecutive months. Just two reactor restarts led to a considerable drop in oil imports so it’s no wonder the government and the business community supports the twelve restart applications that have so far been submitted.
When you look at the statistics you realize it’s not a question of if the reactors will be restarted but when. Take a closer look at those same figures and I think you’ll realize that when means as soon as possible.