Japan has stricter nuclear safety regulations since Fukushima. Restarting each reactor could cost around $1 billion in fees and will require a six-month review by the new Nuclear Regulation Authority. In the most optimistic scenarios, Japan might be able to fire up 10 reactors per year.
Japan’s 50+ main nuclaer reactors have provided some 30% of the country’s electricity and this was expected to increase to at least 40% by 2017. The prospect now is for at least half of this, from a depleted fleet of no more than 48 reactors.
The reactor restarts are facing significant implementation costs ranging from US$700 million to US$1 billion per unit, regardless of reactor size or age. The NRA is working to increase its relicensing staff to about 100 people, which could potentially shorten the currently envisaged six-month review timeline. Under a high case scenario developed by Itochu, about 10 reactors could be added every year for a total of up to 35 reactors back online within five years.
Economic impact of shutdowns.
JAIF has said that increased fuel imports are costing about JPY 3.8 to 4.0 trillion ($40 billion) per year (METI puts total fossil fuel imports at JPY 9 trillion in FY2013). The trade deficit in FY2012 was JPY 6.9 trillion ($70 billion), and preliminary 2013 figures released by the Ministry of Finance show JPY 11.5 trillion ($112 billion), up 65% on 2012’s figure of JPY 6.9 trillion. The total trade deficit from March 2011 to end of 2013 was thus JPY 21.0 trillion ($204 billion), compared with previous surpluses of at least JPY 2.5 trillion per year (JPY 6.6 trillion in 2010).
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