Japan Needs Power. What is the Plan to Deal With Electrical Shortages?

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Ohi nuclear power plants 3 and 4 may be able to ease Japan’s electricity crisis: Image courtesy of KEI

Opening Japan’s Nuclear Plants Ohi No.3 and No.4

Each of these nuclear plants is a 1127 MWe nuclear power plant located in Fukui, about 225 miles west of Tokyo on the coast of Japan. Part of 13 reactors clustered in four complexes, this area is referred to as  Japan’s ‘Nuclear Alley.’

The nuclear steam supply system for Ohi 3 and 4, was provided by Mitsubishi  and the architect engineer was the utility Kansai Electric Power Co.  and Mitsubishi. Both reactors are pressurized water reactors( PWR) with initial operation in 1991 and 1992, respectfully.

In  a PWR, water is pumped at high pressure through the reactor core where the water is heated by enriched UO2 producing energy, through fission. The pressure in the primary system prevents the water from turning to steam, so it flows to a steam generator where its thermal energy is transferred to a secondary system producing steam that drives the turbines.

This is a different reactor design than Fukushima, but the plant still needs to develop a safety plan. The president of the of Kansai electric Power Company recently submitted a plan to the Industry Minister Edano which included the installation of vents equipped with filters to scrub radioactive materials from steam, and also plans to build an earthquake-resistant office building – so important in the Fukushima accident. Both are scheduled for completion in the year 2015.

The plant has also completed other upgrades to secure cooling functions and prevent meltdowns, and it has committed a special monitoring system to prevent an accident in the future. The main issue, however, was the overhaul of Japan’s current regulatory oversight. Still cloistered in disagreements, this new organization is imperative for the future of nuclear power in Japan.

Japan’s nuclear power reactors are all out of commission – Image by Steffen Kuntoff

Nuclear Power Crisis in Japan: What is the Answer?

Prime Minister Noda believes that the answer to Japan’s power crisis is the start-up of Ohi 3 and 4 to provide power to a hard-hit region, and provide some relief during power shortages. Whether it will be only for the summer months, or will be the initial move towards more nuclear plants starting up remains to be seen. Japan needs the power, but the populace still remain wary of a lack of oversight, and future disasters.

Resources

Westlake, A. Prime Minister Noda calls for restart of two nuclear reactors. (2012). Japan Daily Press. Accessed June 14, 2012.

Nuclear Transparency. Nuclear Reactor Maps: Ohi. (2012). Accessed June 14, 2012.

World Nuclear Organization. Nuclear Power in Japan. (2012). Accessed June 14, 2012.

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