Nuclear shut doesn't boost oil use in western Japan

Kansai Electric Power Company (KEPCO), that supplies electricity to big cities in western part of Japan such as Osaka and Kyoto, avoided power outage successfully during winter despite a lack of nuclear power supply. The company, however, is very eager to restart its nuclear power plants. Because its electricity supply capacity without nuclear power is likely to be smaller by 14% than expected demand during coming summer.

KEPCO's maximum electricity supply in August 2011 was 22.59 million kilowatts. About 3.43 million kw was provided by nuclear power plants. Thermal power will have to compensate the lack of nuclear power supply in coming summer season.

KEPCO has thermal power generation capacity of 16.91 million kw in total. But regular maintenance and unexpected troubles usually reduce its utilization to about 80% of the rated capacity. Hydroelectricity is able to provide maximum 5.3 million kw. Although the sum total of thermal power supply and hydroelectricity is 18.88 million kw, it is lower by 17% than the maximum demand in last August.

Even if the company can expect some relief by other electricity suppliers, it is difficult to avoid power outage without asking to consumers to reduce electricity use by 15% compared to the previous year.

The following chart shows KEPCO's maximum electricity supply and its power generation capacity over the past couple of years. Monthly supply by sum total of thermal power and hydroelectricity have always exceeded thermal power generation capacity. It means that KEPCO always must reduce electricity supply when it shuts all of its nuclear plants.

Electricity consumption in Kansai area may be required to reduce by 15% from a year ago during the active demand season. About 5-10% power saving is also necessary in other period.

If the power-saving to depress thermal power generation, petroleum consumption by KEPCO is unlikely to increase significantly.
 A 15% reduction of electric power use will limit KEPCO's monthly electricity supply to 10 billion kWh during summer period. Hydroelectricity can supply 1.6 billion kWh per month, while liquefied natural gas and coal are likely to generate 6 billion kWh. Therefore, petroleum-burning thermal power plants are required to supply only 2.4 billion kWh.

Monthly petroleum consumption by KEPCO is likely to remain at about 550,000 kiloliters, or 110,000 barrels per day. It seems to be a small quantity despite a serious situation of the shut of entire nuclear power plant in the megalopolis area.

Meanwhile, KEPCO seems to have boosted operations at its LNG-burning thermal power plants. The company's montly LNG consumption has almost reached to the physical limit of 700,000 metric tonnes.

If KEPCO continues to use monthly 700,000 mt of LNG to make up for a lack of nuclear power supply, its natural gas consumption in 2012 will rise 45% from a year ago.
Failure of additional LNG purchase may force the company to use more petroleum.

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