Japan has shut down another of its nuclear reactors, leaving just one of the 54 reactors to remain in operation, following last year's tsunami that triggered a disaster at Fukushima.
The Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) has taken off line the No 6 unit at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa power station in Niiagata for maintenance. The last running reactor on the northern island of Hokkaido is also set to go off line on 5 May for maintenance.
Tepco has 17 reactors, which provide electricity to some 45 million people in the Tokyo area. Six of the nuclear reactors at its devastated Fukushima Daiichi plant and four reactors at its neighbouring Fukushima Daini plant are currently off line, an Aljazeera report said.
Moreover, three nuclear plants in the Kashiwazaki Kariwa plant, 230 km northwest of Tokyo, remain off line after a magnitude 6.8 earthquake struck the area in July 2007 and small fires that followed; four others are under maintenance, the report added.
Before the Fukushima disaster Japan received one-third of its electricity from nuclear power stations.
Last year, when the country faced elecriticy shortfall, the government imposed power restrictions on some large corporate users, ordering them to cut usage by 15 percent.To deal with the shortage, manufacturers operated plants at night and on the weekends to avoid peak hour power consumption. Companies used in-house generators while cutting down on the use of air conditioners and lights, reported Reuters.
Japan could still face an electricity shortfall this summer. The government has estimated that Japan could face a power shortage of 9.2 percent this summer, or 16.6 million kilowatts, if all nuclear reactors are down and no measures are taken.
The government has been trying to restart the nuclear power stations conducting stress tests to prove that they are safe, but local residents have strongly opposed the decision due to safety concerns.