Nuclear energy and nuclear safety

Committee:
Energy
Published:
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced a plan on August 24th 2022 of making up to a total of 17 reactors operational by summer 2023 and constructing new “next generation” nuclear power plants. Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is developing a design of "SRZ-1200", a 1.2-million-kilowatt advanced light water reactor with Kansai EPCO, Hokkaido EPCO, Shikoku EPCO and Kyushu EPCO, to develop a next-generation nuclear power reactor. The consortium aims for mid-2030 completion. Also, Chugoku plans to restart is reactor of Shimane 2 (BWR-5 with a 2436MWt thermal capacity) in February 2023, after seismic reinforcement and safety tests to be cleared. 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. On the other hand, electricity bill rising for the past year of 20% for households and of 30% for businesses may enhance a new lead for Japanese government’s policies in the upcoming years. In fact, it pushes the government to reimplement subsidies to the Japanese Utilities and cash pay-outs to households and firms. This may be affected by the sharp falls in the yen that pushes up prices of imported goods. Mainly, costs for coal have tripled within the last year, and the price of natural gas has doubled in the same period.

Recommendations

  • Japan should increase cooperation with international organisations to improve global nuclear safety.
  • Japan should accelerate the restart of the idled reactors to achieve the 2030 decarbonisation objectives.
  • Japan should promote fuel multi-recycling to reduce waste and further boost energy self-sufficiency.
  • The Japanese Government should develop a long-term plan for the replacement of ageing reactors to achieve the energy mix targets, including maintaining sufficient manpower to restart the current fleet and its future replacement.