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Japan approves a 20-year life extension for the 1.7 GW Sendai nuclear plant

Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) has approved a 20-year life extension for Units 1 and 2 of the Sendai nuclear power plant, located near the city of Satsumasendai in the Kagoshima prefecture (southern Japan). The 1.7 GW nuclear plant, comprised of two units with a capacity of 846 MW (890 MW gross) each, is being operated Kyushu Electric Power Company.

The Sendai-1 and Sendai 2 reactors will reach 40 years of operation in July 2024 and November 2025, respectively, meaning the NRA’s approval will authorise the units to run until 60 years of operation until July 2044 and November 2045. The Sendai nuclear power plant was the first nuclear power plant to be reopened (in 2015) following the 2011 Fukushima accident.

In June 2023, the Japanese parliament enacted a law to allow nuclear reactors in Japan to operate beyond their current limit of 60 years, in order to help cut greenhouse gas emissions and ensure a sufficient energy supply for the country. Japan’s reliance on nuclear power was reduced following the Fukushima accident, dropping from 25% of the power mix in 2010 to 1% in 2015, and back to 5.3% in 2022. Before the accident, there were 54 reactors spread over 17 power plants (49 GW in 2010 against 33 GW in 2022).

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