Nuclear energy and nuclear safety

Committee:
Energy
Published:
In the 2021 Basic Energy Plan draft, the Japanese Government confirmed that nuclear energy would remain a core constituent of the Japanese energy mix, as it is targeting 20~22% of nuclear generated electricity in FY2030 (from 4.3% in 2020). The nuclear power plant fleet reached a new milestone on 23 June 2021 with the restart of the Kansai EPCO’s Mihama 3 reactor, the first one to be connected to the grid since 2018. The Takahama 1 and 2 reactors should also have been restarted n June of the same year, but the operator could not complete the construction of anti-terrorism facilities on time. In the near future, the issue of ageing plants will become a key concern, not only through plant lifetime extensions, but also through replacement of reactors, some set to be 60 years old by the mid-2030s. Furthermore, it is essential that nuclear long-term sustainability is based on a reliable and efficient approach to safety concerns, smooth implementation of a back-end policy for recycling spent fuel, and final disposal of radioactive waste.

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.