Japan will reduce power saving targets in its industrialised west from Tuesday as one of the first two idled reactors to restart since the Fukushima nuclear crisis reaches capacity, helping companies based in the region such as Panasonic Corp and Sharp Corp.
The government said that the voluntary goal for the area serviced by Kansai Electric Power Co would be decreased to using at least 10 percent less power than a record hot summer in 2010, from an earlier target of 15 percent. It added that further cuts were on the cards.
The government approved the restart of the No.3 and No.4 units at Kansai’s Ohi plant to avoid a possible summer power crunch, though critics say prime minister Yoshihiko Noda is caving in to Japan’s “nuclear village” – a powerful nexus of utilities, bureaucrats and businesses.
The return of full power generation at the 1,180 megawatt No.3 unit at the Ohi plant will boost Kansai’s peak-hour supply by some 1,700 MW, lowering the chances of rolling blackouts or the need to call on neighbouring utilities to share any of their surplus energy.
Japanese manufacturers were badly hit by uncertainty over electricity supplies in the wake of the crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Co’s (Tepco) Fukushima atomic plant, the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986. Voluntary cuts in areas serviced by three neighbouring utilities – Chubu Electric, Hokuriku Electric and Chugoku Electric – will also be lowered from Tuesday.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said the government would further adjust its targets when the 1,180 MW No.4 Ohi unit comes online later this month.
He said that when that facility reaches capacity, numerical targets could be scrapped for Chubu, Hokuriku and Chugoku, while voluntary cuts at Shikoku Electric Power Co could be lowered to 5 percent from 7 percent currently. Customers of another nuclear-reliant utility in the north, Hokkaido Electric Power Co, have also been asked to save power by 7 percent from 2010 levels from July 23.
But those in areas supplied by Tepco and Tohoku Electric Power Co face no numerical targets this summer after the two utilities boosted capacity at fossil-fuel power plants.
Large users there had to endure mandatory power cuts last summer after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami devastated the Fukushima Daiichi facility.
Public safety concerns over nuclear power remain deep, with surveys showing about 70 percent of voters want the country to ditch nuclear eventually.
Following are current power saving targets by the six utilities in central and western Japan, effective on July 2, and those from Tuesday, both relative to the summer of 2010:
Chubu Kansai Hokuriku Chugoku Shikoku Kyushu Current targets 5 percent 15 percent 5 percent 5 percent 7 percent 10 percent From July 10 4 percent 10 percent 4 percent 3 percent same above