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Plan for new and expanded nuclear power plants revised down once again

In April the Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry's Agency for Natural Resources and Energy announced the 2004(1) Electric Power Supply Plan (EPS Plan). This plan brings together the electric power demand estimates and power plant development plans of Japan's ten electric power companies and the two major wholesale electric utilities.

Nuclear Power Development Plan

The Nuclear Power Development Plan (NPD Plan) is a subsection of the EPS Plan. In the 2004 NPD Plan the number of reactors expected to commence operations by 2010 was revised down from seven to six. Postponed to beyond 2010 was Fukushima I-8, representing 1,380 MW. The other 6 reactors were Tomari-3, Higashidoori-1 (Tohoku Electric), Fukushima I-7, Hamaoka-5 and Shika-2 and Shimane-3, representing a total of 7,503 MW (see table 1).

Table 1: Nuclear Power Development Plan

Power Company


Power (MW)

Commenced Construction

Commence Operations


Hokkaido Electric



Nov. 2003

Dec. 2009

Under Construction

Tohoku Electric



Dec. 1998

July 2005

Under Construction

Namie Odaka




Postponed 1 year



After 2010

After 2015

Postponed at least 3 years


Fukushima I-7


April 2006

Oct. 2010

Postponed 1 year

Fukushima I-8


April 2006

Oct. 2011

Postponed 1 year





Postponed 1 year



After 2008

After 2014

Postponed at least 3 years

Chubu Electric



March 1999

Jan. 2005

Under Construction

Hokuriku Electric



Aug. 1999

March 2006

Under Construction

Chugoku Electric



March 2005

March 2011
(2010 bus. year)

Postponed 1 year





Postponed 1 year





Postponed 1 year




Aug. 2006

March 2012

Postponed approx. 2 years

Japan Atomic Power Company





Postponed 2 years





Postponed 3 years


16 Reactors


(*Please note that the Tohoku Electric and TEPCO Higashidoori reactors are at different power plants. Both companies are building or plan to build power plants in Higashidoori. Very confusing!)

In regard to those reactors that are not currently under construction, as usual there were lots of postponements. This time, the start-up time was postponed from 1 to 3 years. For example, take Tokyo Electric Power Company's (TEPCO) Higashidoori-1. Ten years ago, according to the 1994 EPS Plan, it was going to begin operations in 2004. As a result of repeated delays it is now expected to start-up in 2012. Clearly the EPS Plan is premised first and foremost on construction and consumer convenience runs a poor second. Indeed, it makes no difference to demand whether an NPD Plan is produced or not.

The changes that have occurred over the past five NPD Plans are shown in Figure 1. It can be seen that each time a new NPD Plan is drawn up there is further slippage in the year that the reactors are planned to commence operation.

Figure 1: Changes in Nuclear Power Development Plan

The big change from last year's NPD Plan is that Suzu Reactors 1 and 2 (1,350 MW each) and Maki-1 (825MW) have been cancelled and that the number of reactors has been reduced accordingly from 19 to 16. For 28 years Suzu was engulfed in a confrontation between the opponents and the proponents of the electric power companies' plan, but nothing of this, nor any sign of remorse, appears in the EPS Plan. Indeed at a press conference, in regard to the long struggle of the local citizens Kansai Electric Power Company President Yohsaku Fuji even had the gall to say, "I am not familiar with the details of the matter". One would have thought that the power companies should reflect on their behavior and make a proper apology.

In the case of Tohoku Electric Power Company's Maki Nuclear Power Plant, it has been said that this is the first case in Japan where a power company has actually withdrawn an application for a new power plant, but it's also worth noting that 30.5 billion yen had already been spent to purchase the land. One wonders whether they'll try to cut corners in regard to reactor safety etc as they look for management efficiencies to cover this investment.
One reactor is scheduled to begin operations this business year. Hamaoka-5 is scheduled to become operational in January 2005. However, opposition is growing and one can expect that the pros and cons of starting up the reactor will come under scrutiny.

Electric Power Supply Plan

The outlook for 2004 in the EPS Plan is for continued gradual economic recovery. Estimated demand for electric power is 840.7 billion kWh (an increase of 0.8% over last year) and estimated power supply is 196,700 MW2 (an increase of 4.1% over last year). The long term plan covers the next ten years. In addition to the total existing power supply of 234,720 MW2, it includes 30 power plants under construction (21,410 MW) and 53 plants preparing to commence construction (32,880 MW). Last year the nuclear component of total power consumption was 238.9 billion kWh (25.5%3). According to the long term plan, this will reach 429.1 billion kWh (40.4%) in 2013.

By contrast, new energy sources, such as photovoltaics and wind, which last year produced 4.4 billion kWh (0.5%), are planned to increase to just 6.7 billion kWh (0.6%). The document states, "The steady development and introduction of domestically produced energy sources such as traditional hydro [as opposed to pumped hydro - ed.] and new energy sources, will also be promoted." Clearly, however, they aren't serious about promoting new energy sources.


Plans such as this, which have been decided by vested interest groups, are invariably over-estimates which ignore reality. However, it is the people who bear the brunt when the plans fail. It's strange that the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy doesn't honor its public duty to reflect on its past mistakes. As long as it doesn't do so, we can expect it to keep repeating these same mistakes.

Tadahiro Katsuta (CNIC)

1. Throughout this article years refer to business years, which in Japan are from 1st April to 31st March.

2. The figure for current capacity in the long term plan is larger than the figure for 2004, because the former includes power plants that were not actually operational in 2004.

3. This is much lower than the figure for previous years (around 33-35%), because TEPCO was forced to close all its nuclear plants after a series of scandals.

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