by Will Davis
The ultimate survival of TEPCO as a long term profitable business continues to be in question as the company struggles with the ongoing decommissioning of the Fukushima Daiichi plant.  In recent times the company has also stated that it will dismantle the other, more southerly nuclear station in Fukushima prefecture.  This leaves TEPCO with only one nuclear plant it can return to operation, and from which it can generate revenue in order to survive (although it has considerable other generating assets).  Will that happen?  The answer is only a “maybe,” although the company is certain it’s “yes.”
The just-released 2019 TEPCO Integrated Report contains some interesting hints at our answer.  To start with, it’s made quite clear in the report that nuclear power has a future with TEPCO; as a part of the company’s long term “opportunities” through 2050, nuclear energy has a stated, clear role, even though the company acknowledges that there is at the moment a “lowering social acceptance” for nuclear energy.
TEPCO will first meet this goal by restarting units at the western Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant site.  This plant has seven units; the two newest, TEPCO’s only completed ABWR units, are presently well along in the process to restart under the new safety rules and procedures that followed the dissolution of NISA and the formation of the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA).  TEPCO’s Integrated Report estimates that the total expenditure for safety measures at K-K will reach over 10 billion yen – but points out that overall corporate cost reductions per year of between 90 and 110 billion yen will be realized if just one nuclear unit returns to operation.
Kashiwazaki-Kariwa. Four older units are near; the more distant group of three units includes the two ABWR’s, Units 6 and 7.  Photo courtesy TEPCO.
Restart of the five older units

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