RPT-Fossil fuels can't save Japan from power shortage -report
(Repeats story issued on Friday with no changes to text)
By Chikako Mogi
TOKYO, July 15 (Reuters) - Japan would face a serious electricity shortage if all its 54 nuclear reactors stopped operating, since the country would be unable to bridge the gap with just fossil fuel, the Japan Center for Economic Research said in a report.
Disagreement within the government on how to handle public anxiety about nuclear power plant safety and the need to avoid blackouts to keep companies from shifting production overseas has heightened the risk of all reactors being shut by next April.
Japan's nuclear safety agency on Friday also failed to provide a timetable for "stress tests" announced this week, aimed at dispelling public wariness and boosting confidence in the reactors' ability to withstand natural disasters.
The Center's estimate showed fossil fuels can supply just about 30 percent of Tokyo Electric's , or Tepco's, peak electricity demand, resulting in the largest shortfall.
Tepco's reliance on nuclear power for generating electricity was 28 percent in fiscal 2009/10, in the middle of a range from 14 percent at Chubu Electric Power and 45 percent at Kansai Electric Power Co.
Chubu is estimated to be able to meet peak demand entirely with fossil fuel alternatives with Shikoku Electric Power also meeting about two-thirds of its peak demand, while Kansai Electric can supply about 55 percent of its peak demand.
Tohoku Electric Power, Hokuriku Electric Power and Kyushu Electric Power can meet about half their peak demand from fossil fuels, JCER said.
But Hokkaido Electric Power and Chugoku Electric Power will hardly be able to supplement the lack of nuclear power generation with fossil fuel alternatives, JCER estimated.
JCER estimated that the utilisation rate at fossil-fuel plants could be raised to 70 percent, which industry sources say is tantamount to full capacity in reality.
When Tepco's Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant was hit and shut by a strong earthquake in 2007, the utility met the peak demand by raising the utilisation rate to 70 percent.
The use of types of fossil fuels -- gas, coal and oil -- differs by utilities but JCER drew the estimate based on Tepco's model: in Fiscal 2009/10 Tepco generated 45 percent of power from gas, 12 percent from coal and 9 percent from oil.
Chubu had the highest reliance on gas with 47 percent, with Shikoku the lowest, at 1 percent. Hokkaido and Hokuriku have no gas-fired plants.
The additional import costs needed to boost fossil-fuel fired plants in fiscal 2012/13 alone are estimated at nearly 1.6 trillion yen, and fall significantly short of meeting Japan's electricity demand, JCER said.
The estimate assumes an exchange rate of 80 yen to the dollar and an oil price of $100 per barrel.
JCER also estimated a potential addition to electricity supply worth 11,000 MW from boosting gas turbines and generators at companies.
Tepco has already announced an additional supply of 1,500 MW through gas turbines, or about 4 percent of its fossil-fuel generated capacity.
JCER assumes that if eight other utilities applied the same rate of increase in their fossil-fuel generated capacity they would generate a total of 3,250 MW.
If the utilisation rate of nationwide fossil-fuel powered inhouse power generation was raised to 70 percent from 50 percent and sold to utilities, that would amount to 7,820 MW.
Japan's nine utilities and a wholesaler have 54 nuclear power generators for commercial use, with a total generating capacity of 48,960 megawatts. The wholesaler accounts for about 5 percent of the total generating capacity.
Japan's total power capacity is 241,470 megawatts.
The devastating March 11 earthquake and subsequent tsunami immediately shut 10 reactors -- seven of Tepco's and three of Tohoku Electric Power Co's in quake-hit northeastern Japan, shaving off about 20 percent of Japan's total nuclear capacity, or 4 percent of total power capacity.
If all 54 reactors were shut, Japan's total power generating capacity would shrink by 20 percent.
Shortage left despite fossil fuel use to bridge nuclear power gap:
Utility Peak Demand Fossil Replacement Shortage Hokkaido Electric Power 1,100 MW 200 MW 900 MW Tohoku Electric Power 2,400 MW 1,000 MW 1,400 MW Tokyo Electric Power 13,000 MW 4,000 MW 9,000 MW Chubu Electric Power 3,000 MW 3,000 MW 0 MW Hokuriku Electric Power 1,200 MW 520 MW 680 MW Kansai Electric Power 8,600 MW 5,000 MW 3,600 MW Chugoku Electric Power 400 MW 0 MW 400 MW Shikoku Electric Power 900 MW 600 MW 300 MW Kyushu Electric Power 4,700 MW 2,700 MW 2,000 MW Source: JCER Note: Utilisation rate of 70 percent instead of 50 pct (Additional reporting by Osamu Tsukimori)
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