TOKYO, April 13 (Reuters) - Tokyo Electric Power Co aims to finish anti-earthquake reinforcement at its Kashiwazaki Kariwa No.3 reactor by year-end, hoping to speed up an eventual restart to help replace power lost at its other nuclear plant in Fukushima, its president said on Wednesday.
Three of the seven 1,100 megawatt reactors at northwest Japan’s Kashiwazaki Kariwa facility, the world’s biggest nuclear plant, remain offline after the facility was shut by a major earthquake in July 2007.
Tokyo Electric is struggling to boost its generating capacity after a devastating earthquake and tsunami on March 11 halted operations at the Fukushima complex, where radiation continues to leak in the world’s worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl.
“As for reactor No.3, we hope to finish work on improving earthquake resistance by the end of this year and start the process to get approval (to resume operation),” Tokyo Electric President Masataka Shimizu told reporters in Tokyo.
Tokyo Electric is also working to restore operations at Kashiwazaki’s No.2 and No.4 units, although no timeframe has been set for their restart.
The No.3 reactor will not be able to restart soon enough to help Tokyo Electric through a potential power crunch in this summer’s peak consumption season, when it faces a shortfall of as much as 10,000 MW if demand is not cut from last year’s levels.
The company also must, however, find long-term ways to make up for lost generating capacity from Fukushima, where four damaged reactors appear certain to be scrapped and the future of the other six remains uncertain.
Tokyo Electric also said it aims to restart this summer at least one of its oil-fired power units at its Hirono plant, where the 600 megawatt No.2 unit and 1,000 MW No.4 unit were knocked offline after last month’s quake. The other two were down at the time of the disaster.
The company also said it aims to install at least 1,000 MW of gas turbines by the end of July. (Reporting by Yoko Nishikawa and Taiga Uranaka; Writing by Osamu Tsukimori; Editing by Edmund Klamann)