A fuel rod is inserted into a reactor vessel inside the No.1 reactor at Sendai nuclear power station

First Japanese nuclear restart planned for August 10

Japanese utility Kyushu Electric Power plans to start up one of its nuclear reactors on August 10 in the first attempt to reboot the country's atomic energy industry.

The sector was shut down in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima disaster, but prime minister Shinzo Abe's government has been pushing to bring some reactors back online, arguing they are key to economic growth.

The 890MW No. 1 reactor at Kyushu's Sendai nuclear station will take roughly 12 hours to go critical after the start-up begins, with power output starting two or three days later, a spokeswoman said. It will reach full power in roughly ten days after the restart, at which point regulators will make final checks ahead of commercial operations resuming in September.

The firm, which is the monopoly supplier on the south-western island of the same name, said today that it made a profit in the three months through June 30, after four years of annual losses, and restarting the reactor should help it reduce costs incurred from burning fossil fuels by about $60m (£38m) a month.

The shutdown of Japan's nuclear sector has caused tens of billions of dollars in losses at utilities as they resorted to importing more fossil fuel for power generation and paid for upgrades to meet tightened safety rules, but despite rising electricity bills opinion polls continue to show a consistent majority opposed to the restarts.

Kyushu hopes to have its 890MW No. 2 reactor running by mid-October as well. It said earlier that with both reactors operating, it would save about 15 billion yen (£77m) in fuel costs per month, mainly by using less oil and LNG.

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