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As nuclear energy returns to Japan, the industry gets a boost in morale

by Greg Klein | August 11, 2015

Japan’s Sendai 1 nuclear reactor began its restart process August 11, a move that’s “very psychologically important for the whole industry, for Japan and the market,” Cameco Corp’s (TSX:CCO) Tim Gitzel told Bloomberg. But the CEO doesn’t expect an immediate effect on uranium markets due to Japan’s significant inventories.

As nuclear energy returns to Japan, the industry gets a boost in morale

The reactor should begin supplying electricity to the grid by August 14 and reach commercial operation in early September, stated the World Nuclear News. Japanese utilities have 20 more reactors applying for restarts, a process that’s expected to speed up after the first few begin operation, the WNN reported.

The country has 43 operable reactors, according to the World Nuclear Association. The organization says Japan expects to supply 20% to 22% of its electricity through nuclear energy by 2030, with fossil fuels providing about 55% to 58%, hydro 9% and other renewables 14%.

Still a highly controversial issue, nuclear energy has the support of business people who say high energy costs are stifling their companies and the economy. But opinion polls show majority opposition, according to Reuters. Protesters outside the Sendai site have included Naoto Kan, “who was prime minister during the Fukushima crisis and now fiercely opposes nuclear power,” the news agency stated. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe counters that Japan now has the “world’s most stringent regulation standards,” Reuters added.

Japan’s nuclear fleet was taken offline in a gradual process that began when a tsunami hit the Fukushima plant in March 2011. The last shutdown took place in September 2013. Sendai 1 is the country’s first to resume operation.

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