Japan’s Ikata-3 begins commercial operation

13 September 2016

Unit 3 of Japan's Ikata NPP in Ehime prefecture has resumed commercial operation, Shikoku Electric Power Company announced on 8 September. In the wake of the Fukushima accident, Ikata 3 was taken offline for a periodic inspection in April 2011 and remained closed pending necessary upgrades to meet the new strict post-Fukushima regulations. Shikoku began the process to restart Ikata 3 (a 846MWe pressurized water reactor) on 12 August, and the reactor achieved criticality the next day, resuming power generation on 15 August and reaching 100% operating capacity on 22 August.

Shikoku said the reactor had completed a full-power performance inspection by the Nuclear Regulation Authority after which it was declared to be in commercial operation once again. Shikoku president Hayato Saeki thanked everyone in Ehime prefecture and Ikata town for their "efforts, understanding and cooperation" in restarting the reactor. He said Ikata 3 would be company's main source of "stable and inexpensive power supply". He promised to keep the public informed about the continued safe management of the plant.

Ikata 3 is the fifth Japanese reactor to resume operation under the new safety standards. Unit 1 of Kyushu Electric Power Company's Sendai plant in Kagoshima prefecture restarted in August 2015, followed by Sendai 2 in October. Unit 3 of Kansai Electric Power Company's Takahama NPP in Fukui prefecture resumed operation on 29 January. Takahama 4 was restarted on 26 February, but has remained offline since 29 February following an automatic shutdown of the reactor due to a "main transformer/generator internal failure". However, an injunction imposed by a district court on 9 March led to unit 3 being taken offline as well and both units have since remained idle. A further 20 reactors are preparing to restart and are undergoing regular inspects by NRA to ensure they meet the required safety standards. 

There are three blocks at the Ikata NPP, but Shikoku Electric has already said it plans to decommission Ikata 1 because projected financial returns from operating the reactor will be “insufficient” to justify the expected costs of safety measures. No decision has been made on Ikata-2.

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