Last reactor standing as Japan faces power shortages

March 27, 2012

Japan is now down to one nuclear reactor to supply electricity to its troubled power sector after the Tokyo Electric Power Co. on Monday took its last remaining reactor off line for regular maintenance, according to Germany’s Deutsche Welle.

The No. 6 reactor at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa complex, the world's biggest nuclear power plant, has been shut down for maintenance by the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco), leaving only one of Japan's 54 commercial nuclear reactors online after last year's devastating earthquake and tsunami.

That reactor, a unit at Hokkaido Electric Power Co.'s plant on Hokkaido in northern Japan, is also expected to be shut down in early May for scheduled maintenance work.

Japanese reactors are taken off line every 13 months for regular checks. However, with concerns over nuclear safety running high following the Fukushima crisis, none of the reactors that have been shut down for checks or were already offline at the time of the disaster have been allowed to restart.

Japan's government continues to face strong opposition to nuclear power. Local leaders, fearing a political backlash, are reluctant to give their approval.

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has promised to reduce Japan's reliance on nuclear power over time and plans to lay out a new energy policy by summer.

 Meanwhile, Japan has temporarily turned to oil and coal generation plants to make up for the shortfall, and has called for power conservation.