Japan’s Kansai Electric Power has restarted unit 2 of its Takahama NPP in Fukui Prefecture for the first time since 2011. The 780 MWe pressurised water reactor (PWR), which began operation in 1975, is the 12th unit to be restarted since all NPPs were closed in the wake of the March 2011 Fukushima Daiichi disaster. Kansai has now resumed operating all of its seven reactors since the more stringent post-Fukushima safety standards were introduced. Takahama 2 unit is the second oldest in Japan after the 48-year-old Takahama 1 unit, which was restarted in July.

The restart of the ageing reactors reflects the government’s policy of using nuclear power generation to cut carbon emissions and ensure a secure energy supply. In May, parliament adopted a bill to allow nuclear reactors to operate beyond the current limit of 60 years. Commercial operation of Takahama 2 is scheduled for 16 October.

Takahama 1 was closed for regular maintenance two months before the Fukushima accident. Unit 2 was taken offline in November 2011. In 2015, Kansai applied to the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) to restart both reactors. NRA confirmed both units met new safety regulations in 2016 approved their operation for up to 60 years. Takahama 3&4 (1,180 MWe PWRs), which began operation in 1985, restarted in 2016 and 2017. In April Kansai requested NRA’s permission to extend their lifespan by 20 years.

Image: Takahama units 1 and 2 (courtesy of Kyodo)