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- Press Conference by Minister Hagiuda (Excerpt)
Press Conference by Minister Hagiuda (Excerpt)
*Note: This is a provisional translation for reference purposes only.
Tuesday, June 7, 2022
Press Conference Room, METI
Power Supply and Demand
I would like to say one thing at the start.
Earlier, we held a review meeting on power supply and demand for the first time in five years.
The situation will be tight this summer with a reserve rate of 3.1% in three areas: Tohoku, Tokyo, and Chubu. The reserve rate required for a stable supply cannot be guaranteed in the winter in areas from Tokyo to Kyushu, and the situation in the Tokyo area in particular will be very harsh, with a negative reserve rate.
In this situation, in light of the higher-than-expected increase in demand for electricity and increasing risks in fuel procurement, we have decided on comprehensive measures for the power supply and demand conditions for FY2022.
We will implement all supply measures, including restarting idle power plants, procuring additional fuel, and maximizing utilization of non-fossil fuel power sources such as renewable energy and nuclear power.
Regarding measures to control demand, there is no numerical target for power conservation this summer, but we ask the entire nation to cooperate in conserving energy as much as possible by, for example, setting the air conditioner temperature to 28°C and turning off lights when they are unnecessary, and to help build a system for saving power in the event of tight supply and demand.
The administrative staff will explain the details later.
Power Supply and Demand
Q: Regarding the review meeting on power supply and demand, the members once again expressed a harsh outlook for the critical electricity supply this summer and winter. Please give us your thoughts on what caused this power shortage. Also, what medium- to long-term measures do you think are important to overcome it?
A: The situation will be tight this summer with a reserve rate of 3.1% in Tohoku, Tokyo, and Chubu, and the reserve rate required for a stable supply cannot be guaranteed in the winter in seven areas from Tokyo to Kyushu. The situation in the Tokyo area in particular will be very harsh, with a negative reserve rate.
Against the background of the decarbonization trend in recent years, the utilization rate of thermal power plants has decreased as the introduction of renewable energy has expanded, resulting in more of them being suspended or abolished. This could be one of the reasons behind it.
In addition, the damage caused by an earthquake off the coast of Fukushima in March is prolonging the suspension of power plants, and the pandemic has increased teleworking in recent years, which causes a surge in power demand. We believe that all of these together will strain the power supply and demand conditions this summer and winter.
Medium- to long-term structural measures for the future include ensuring reliable supply capacity (e.g., through the capacity market) and accelerating the consideration of measures to invest in new power sources and strengthen fuel procurement management. We will achieve a stable and sustainable power supply while continuously reviewing the system.
Q: I think one cause of the power shortage, particularly in Eastern Japan, is that there are no nuclear power plants in operation there. All the nuclear power plants in operation are in Western Japan, and considering the limitations on cross-regional interconnection lines, it is difficult to expect power supply from the west. Regarding nuclear power plants in Eastern Japan, I think the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa, Onagawa, and Tokai No.2 nuclear power plants were given approvals before Shimane Nuclear Power Station, to which approval was given last week. As for the reason why there are no plans to restart nuclear power plants in Eastern Japan, I think there may be problems with the operators. Please give us your opinions on that.
A: It is true that nuclear power generation in Eastern Japan has not been restarted since the earthquake. Toward this summer, we plan to encourage the restart of idle thermal power plants through public solicitations, and we will work to ensure as much additional supply capacity as possible through support for procuring additional fuel. With regard to nuclear power stations, the government's policy is that we will put safety above all other considerations, and respect the judgment of the Nuclear Regulation Authority if it deems that the stations meet the new regulatory standards. Only then will we proceed with restarting them while obtaining the understanding of the local stakeholders. It is important to restart nuclear power plants under those conditions in order to ensure a stable power supply. We will encourage business operators and industries to cooperate with each other and address safety examinations in a proper manner so that power plants can restart smoothly, not just in Eastern Japan. The government will also stand in the forefront and make tenacious efforts to gain the understanding and cooperation of the stakeholders including local municipalities.
I understand that some of the three plants that you mentioned are undergoing construction work, including construction of Specialized Safety Facilities, and that the situation is different from one plant to another. I would like to remind all the business operators to be fully aware of the Regulation Authority's instructions and take cautious responses.