(Reuters) – Economic risks are too high for Japan to pull the plug on its 54 nuclear plants next year despite intense public pressure on Tokyo to cut reliance on atomic power in favor of other clean energy sources.
Unless Tokyo overrides resistance from local officials, orders reactor restarts and faces down public disapproval, by April next year Japan’s last plant would shut for maintenance and leave the country with no nuclear power.
A massive earthquake in March crippled reactors, sparked the world’s worst nuclear disaster in 25 years and left Japan struggling to supply homes and industry with power as nuclear capacity utilization fell to 36 percent.
Three months later, the shortage is worsening as reactors are switched off one by one. Mindful of the growing public concern about safety standards, regional bureaucrats are delaying the restart of reactors after scheduled maintenance until tighter safety measures are implemented.
Analysts doubt the government would allow the situation to develop into a full shutdown, but a partial shutdown would hurt. – Source