The tsunami and 9.0 magnitude earthquake that struck Japan recently have triggered the worst crisis ever recorded in the history of the country. The natural disaster is estimated to have killed more than 18,000 people, and has also resulted in the closure of 11 out of the total 54 nuclear plants in the country.
The shutdown of these facilities, which provides 30% of the country’s power, will create a huge gap in the near-term as well as future power demand and supply. This tragedy perhaps could result in a significant impact on the entire nuclear power industry. As the events in Japan unfolded over the course of a single week, the driving force behind the growth of nuclear power in the country diminished.
The nuclear crisis was triggered after two of the damaged nuclear reactors caught fire, leaking radiation. As Japan battles to bring these reactors under control, other nuclear power producing countries are seriously considering increasing the safety measures of their nuclear facilities and some of them have already announced reviews of their nuclear programs. As a result of the damages, at least 2 gigawatts (GW) of Japan’s nuclear capacity have been permanently lost, and another 10 GW is likely to remain shut-down for several years. This capacity would need quick replacement to keep up with the high demand for power in the summer ahead. To fill the void Japan, already the world’s largest LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) importer is looking to import additional LNG supplies, something that can be facilitated easily through global LNG markets with their flexibility of supply. However, even these additional LNG supplies are only expected to be able to replace about 50% of the lost nuclear capacity in the near-term. Therefore, Japan will have to explore other power generation options to meet the peak demand for power in the approaching summer.
GlobalData: Japan Power Crisis