World’s Largest Nuclear Plant Remains Idle Despite Energy Crisis

The Kashiwazaki Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant, the world’s largest, sits dormant amidst global energy demands. Despite Japan’s goal to derive 50% of its energy from nuclear sources by 2030, the plant has remained inactive since the Fukushima disaster.

World's Largest Nuclear Plant Remains Idle Despite Energy Crisis 1

We believe it won’t be long until nuclear power experiences another surge in popularity. However, despite the fact that the world’s energy needs are still expanding, the largest nuclear power plant in the world, the Kashiwazaki Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant in Japan, is currently idle.

This week, Bloomberg revealed that Japan’s aim of obtaining 50% of its energy from nuclear power by 2030 no longer includes the Kashiwazaki Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant, which sits inactive despite being acknowledged by Guinness World Records for its potential 8.2 gigawatt production.

After the Fukushima accident in 2011, the facility, known as KK, closed its seven reactors, prompting a nationwide review of nuclear energy. Arguments about whether Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TOPCO) and KK should be granted another chance are becoming more heated in the context of contemporary economic policies that aim to promote sectors such as artificial intelligence and semiconductor manufacturing.

Nuclear power is experiencing a renaissance on a global scale. AI-Jesus Sam Altman recently launched his tiny modular reactor business, Oklo, on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). The small modular reactor concept has the potential to bring nuclear power back to the world in locations like France and Poland; certain nations even have plans to use it by 2030.

According to IAEA projections, nuclear power capacity might rise from 2022 levels by 140% by 2050 and by 24% by 2030. A wider recommitment to nuclear energy as a crucial resource is seen in the fact that nations like China and India are growing their nuclear programs and that Saudi Arabia is even considering nuclear alternatives with the United States.

World's Largest Nuclear Plant Remains Idle Despite Energy Crisis 2

Rafael Mariano Grossi, director general of the IAEA, said in March: “It’s very important for Japan to be able to count on Kashiwazaki Kariwa again. How many countries have that idle capacity? Many countries wish they just had it.”

In Japan, it is politically difficult to start up new nuclear reactors or restart existing ones. While wind and solar power produce electricity that varies, nuclear power produces consistent, carbon-free electricity. However, it takes more than ten years to build these facilities and generate durable hazardous waste.

Japan’s nuclear authority authorized the restart of two of the KK plant’s reactors in 2017, but no official restart date has been established because local government consent is still pending. Bloomberg mentioned that the matter might be discussed in the next regional assembly meeting in the prefecture of Niigata, where KK is situated.

Once more, the restart is unlikely to happen unless the clear advantages surpass the recollections of the previous Fukushima catastrophe.

This is happening while the administration of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida examines Japan’s energy strategy. This is a regular assessment that involves a number of stakeholders and might change the nation’s nuclear energy objectives in the face of criticism for its lack of clean energy efforts.

Japan’s substantial reliance on imported energy for 70% of its electrical needs is troublesome in the context of global energy uncertainty, as evidenced by events in the Middle East and Ukraine. This is especially true given that 21 nuclear reactors are currently inactive.

“We need to secure a stable electricity source for our customers — it’s important to have some source that’s not dependent on overseas fuel imports,” Tepco President Tomoaki Kobayakawa concluded in an April statement to reporters.

Recently, GreatGameIndia reported that Holtec, the leading U.S. manufacturer of storage equipment for nuclear waste, is spearheading the nuclear resurgence in the U.S. by reactivating dormant reactors and investing in small modular reactors (SMRs).

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