The Japanese government will be ordering all power utilities across the country to make sure that their thermal power plants are all primed and ready by end of June to accept the heightened demand for electricity when summer rolls in. There have been concerns voiced out that there might be a shortage of power particularly in western Japan – a region which before the Fukushima nuclear crisis depended heavily on nuclear power, even as majority of the country’s nuclear reactors remain mothballed and offline.
It would seem that there is no other choice for Japan’s power companies but try to ride out the summer by operating their power stations at full capacity. The central government is concerned that because many of the thermal plants are old, there may be a need to overhaul these thermal plants by the end of June to prevent break downs and unexpected power disturbances. The government is also set to give subsidies to companies that have newly installed non-utility generators to secure additional power supplies.
According to estimates by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry’s Electricity Supply-Demand Verification Subcommittee, Japan’s nine major utilities should secure a supply capacity of at least 3 percent more than anticipated demand when electricity demand peaks in August. But two of these utilities – namely Kansai Electric Power Co. and Kyushu Electric Power Co. – were heavily dependent on nuclear power before 2011 and are projected to barely meet the 3-percent target, and this even with help from subsidiary utilities. This is why the government is asking all power companies to make sure that their old power plants are overhauled. If they operate their ageing thermal power plants at full capacity during the summer to make up for the lack of nuclear power, there is a huge possibility that these plants might run into some unexpected trouble.
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