Industry minister Toshimitsu Motegi said that some of the country’s idled nuclear reactors might resume operations this autumn at the earliest after undergoing a new safety assessment process.
The Nuclear Regulation Authority plans to introduce new safety requirements for nuclear power plants July 18, and reactors would be brought back online if operators file for a restart after the compilation of the guidelines and the safety of the units in question is confirmed.
Motegi told reporters Tuesday the new requirements will take effect “in the summer,” so the schedule for the resumption of reactors will be “autumn at the earliest.”
It is the first time the industry minister has referred to the timing over the restart of a reactor.
To restart idled reactors, it is necessary to obtain understanding of host local communities. In this regard, Motegi said the government will make efforts to win local consent.
Of the nation’s 50 commercial reactors, only two are currently online amid safety concerns over nuclear power in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima No. 1 plant disaster.
Utilities hope to restart idled reactors once the new regulations come into force, as they are struggling with increasing fuel costs for thermal power generation to make up for the loss of halted nuclear power generation.