Japan Brings 5th Nuclear Reactor Back into Operation
Five operating reactors: The Takahama 3 unit that was brought back into operation on June 6th, is the 5th reactor to be re-started in Japan as the country gradually ramps up nuclear electricity generation. The re-start of Takahama 3 follows the Takahama 4 unit that was brought back on-line in May and reached full commercial production yesterday. Takahama 3 was connected to the electricity grid on June 9th and is scheduled to reach full power output in early-July. The other three reactors that are operating in Japan are Sendai 1 & 2 and Ikata 3.
Two reactors approved for re-start: In January, Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) cleared the Genkai 3 and 4 reactors for re-start. The assembly and governor of the prefecture in which the plants are located gave their approval in April and, on June 13, a court dismissed an application for an injunction against the re-start of the two reactors. Genkai 3 & 4 are scheduled to come on-stream in the fall, which means that Japan should have seven reactors operating by the end of the year.
Three reactors granted 20-year operating life extensions: In the last year, the NRA has granted permission for three reactors to operate for an additional 20 years. These are the Takahama 1 & 2 and Mihama 3 units.
Application has so far been been made for 19 reactors to come back into operation in Japan.
Impact on uranium market: Despite the recent weakness in the uranium price, the medium-term outlook is positive: the return of reactors to operation in Japan, coupled with the new build that is concentrated in China, India and Russia, is increasing uranium demand while producers are cutting output. In terms of Argentina, where U3O8 Corp.’s priority uranium-vanadium deposit is located, firm orders have now been placed for the construction of the country’s 4th and 5th reactors, which increases the demand for uranium fuel. Local uranium production would also support the marketing, to international customers, of a turn-key service for the Argentine-designed Small Modular Reactor (SMR), the prototype of which is currently under construction.
Sources of information:
- Takahama 4 reactor enters commercial operation, June 16, 2017
World Nuclear News June 16, 2017
- Court ruling clears path for restart of Genkai units, June 13, 2017
- Kansai prepares Mihama 3 for 60 years of operation, June 08, 2017
- Japan puts fifth reactor back into operation, June 06, 2017