Japan's restart of nuclear reactors will help Europe's winter energy supply, says IEA chief
TOKYO: Japan's restart of more nuclear power plants would help ease Europe's energy supply fears during the winter as more liquefied natural gas (LNG) will become available to the global market, the head of the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Tuesday (Sep 27).
Europe is racing to prepare for an energy crunch this winter, with the Russia-Ukraine war hampering gas flows and prompting fears of possible blackouts and a recession.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said in August that Japan will restart more idled nuclear plants and look at developing next-generation reactors, setting the stage for a major policy shift on nuclear energy a decade after the Fukushima disaster.
"I'm delighted to see Japan moving toward restarting nuclear power plants," IEA chief Fatih Birol told the International Energy Symposium in Tokyo.
Birol said he met with Kishida on Monday and discussed Japan's initiatives of green transformation, especially the use of nuclear power.
Last year, Birol highlighted the need for Japan, one of the world's largest importers of LNG, to go back to nuclear sources for the resource-poor country's energy security, climate change measures and competitiveness for the local industry.
"Restarting nuclear plants is good news for Japan, but also a big help for Europe during the winter," he said.
"If Japan restarts (more) nuclear power plants, Japan will import less LNG and more LNG will become available in the market, helping Europe survive for the next few months," he said.
Kishida has also said restarting one nuclear reactor would free up 1 million tonnes of LNG a year to the global market.
Japan has six operating reactors with a capacity of 5,546 megawatts. Many others are still going through a relicensing process under safety standards imposed after the Fukushima disaster.