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20 percent of Japan's nuclear reactors online: 'Wrap up and cut down'

Customers and businesses are being warned to wrap up and save energy this winter as Japan faces potential energy shortages with only nine reactors left online.
Written by Hana Stewart-Smith, Contributor

In the fallout of Fukushima's triple-meltdown earlier this year, opinions on nuclear power have never been so low in Japan.

The last few months have provided a flurry of new information regarding the impacts of the reactor meltdown, but there is another consequence of the ongoing nuclear event in the north of Japan.

With winter fast approaching, the Japanese government and major electric companies are warning over the possibility of power shortages over the coming colder months.

At the moment only 10 of Japan's fifty-four commercial reactors are online; most of which are undergoing extensive safety checks in light of the incidents at Fukushima. With Kyushu Electric shutting down another reactor on Thursday in Genkai, only nine will be operational nationwide over winter.

It's not clear yet when these reactors will be coming back online, or indeed, if they will ever do so.

(Source: Flickr, CC)

Public opinion on nuclear power is mixed at present. With the head of Fukushima's No.1 reactor being hospitalised this week, although Tepco stated that it is not for an illness connected to radiation, fears over health implications from the radiation continue.

As a result of these high-scale shutdowns, most power companies are warning about potential shortages. The next few months traditionally demands the highest need for power, but many major utility companies remain concerned about their supplies with so few reactors online.

The worst expected areas include Kyoto, Nara, Osaka and Kobe, the area covered by Kepco. They expect to see demand of around 25.8 million kilowatts by New Years Day, with an available supply of only 24.1 million kilowatts.

As these shortages may become worse throughout January and February, Kepco, along with Kansai Electric and Kyushu Electric, are all urging customers and businesses to lower their energy consumption.

Tepco, the company that owns the ill-fated Fukushima facility, whilst does not expect to suffer shortages throughout the period, still urges caution. All of the companies are offering different advice and suggestions for how to cut energy demand across the nation.

Hokkaido Electric's thermal and hydroelectric plants ensure that they won't experience any shortages, and makes them the only company with a guaranteed surplus over the winter months.

Similar plans to reduce energy consumption were put forward during the summer, but there were reports and criticisms of businesses in Tokyo ignoring government requests. During the summer energy shortages were extremely severe, resulting in nationwide rolling blackouts.


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