Mitsubishi: Nuclear reactors in Japan could restart by spring

The head of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. said he expects idled nuclear reactors in Japan to restart this spring.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Mitsubishi’s President and Chief Executive Hideaki Omiya said he is confident the reactors will restart.

“My sense is that this process will be completed by spring, and from spring to summer this year, there will be a resumption of operation at some power plants,” Omiya was quoted as saying.

Omiya was also quoted as saying that the company expects to see higher revenue from safety upgrades of existing nuclear plants in Japan and increased decommissioning projects, but the loss of new domestic nuclear orders has hurt business. However, Omiya said in the article that he expects to see demand in Japan and abroad for power generation equipment, especially natural gas-fired power plants.

The Japanese government has idled all but five of the 54 commercial reactors and has been conducting stress tests to gauge reactors’ ability to withstand natural disasters. The reactors must pass these tests as well as receive approval from local authorities before they can restart.

Out of the units that have been shut down, 32 are shut down for periodic inspections and have not been allowed to restart. Another 17 units, about 15,990 MWe of capacity, have been shut down due to the tsunami or at the government’s request, according to the World Nuclear News.

After the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in March 2011, the Japanese government said that all reactors would be subject to stress tests conducted in two phases before they can be restarted. Phase 1 applies to those reactors that have been taken offline for periodic inspections to determine whether they can withstand large earthquakes and tsunamis. Phase 2 involves a comprehensive safety assessment of all reactors and will be conducted to enhance the reliability of regular safety checks.

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