Japan is Going Back to Nuclear Energy

The Japanese government will extend the operation of existing nuclear power reactors and replace aging facilities with new advanced ones. a roadmap for the next ten years was compiled as a “basic policy for the realisation of GX (Green Transformation).

Before March 2011 accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, Japan’s 54 reactors provided around 30% of Japan’s electricity. Ten of Japan’s 39 operable reactors have cleared inspections and resumed operation. Another 17 reactors have applied to restart. In 2021, nuclear energy is 7.2% the electricity.

Regulations from 2013 gave Japanese reactors an operating period of 40 years. Extensions may be granted once only and are limited to a maximum of 20 years, contingent on exacting safety requirements.

On 21 December, new rules allow the reactors to be operated for more than the current limit of 60 years. The new policy will effectively extend the period reactors can remain in operation beyond 60 years by excluding the time they spent offline for inspections from the total service life.

Under the new policy, Japan will also develop and construct “next-generation innovative reactors” to replace about 20 reactors that are set to be decommissioned.

In September, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries launched the SRZ-1200 advanced pressurised water reactor design.

23 thoughts on “Japan is Going Back to Nuclear Energy”

  1. A fascinating culture. With one of the few remaining areas with English driving rules; vast range of climatic zones greater than countries 10x the area; an amazing ability to simultaneous embrace very much opposed notions of environmental conservation, profound historical heritage, and dense urban/industrial high-tech, this is the society to watch for embracing all things techno-commercial. Having regained its footing after an unfortunate Fukushima in the 2010s, it has a great advantage in embracing heavily-vertical companies that can take on financially-risky, major civil, early-stage research, and quick develop-and-distribute such as Hitachi, Mitsubishi, Toshiba — and they have one of the world’s few reactor core forges, a definite nuclear bottleneck. The japan nuclear industry is huge with tight government ties and direct to consumer fees for coverage of capital, operating, and subsidization, offsetting much risk other countries’ utilities’ fear to tread. Almost all tech is on-shore (though early licencing came from the US). Can’t wait to see them hit 40%+ grid power early 2030s.

    • Vessels… they forge vessels.

      And by whatever devices necessary, however the subsidies are

      have no doubt it is through government mandate (not private industry or capitalism) the reactors are built.

      The reactors run best privatized, but no rational acting private enterprise would attempt to finance such a thing.

      I agree with all your points about the culture of Japan appreciating old and new.

    • ‘..one of the few remaining areas with English driving rules’ – apart from a dozen stretching from Pakistan, through India, Thailand, Indonesia, and Australia, to New Zealand, and another dozen from South Africa up to Kenya. Plus Hong Kong, interestingly, and a string of island countries from Cyprus to Jamaica. And Britain and Ireland, of course.

    • What nonsense! The Chinese,Koreans,Russians ,and Americans all have robust nuclear programs the US has the world’s largest fleet.

  2. Japan needs to start mass producing floating nuclear power plants for the production of methanol. Methanol can be used in natural gas electric power plants retrofitted to efficiently use methanol. Methanol can also be used in reformed methanol fuel cell power plants.

    • Japans EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone) around the remote island of Minami-Tori-shima would be a perfect location for such floating nuclear facilities surrounded by floating methanol production facilities and methanol tanker ships.

      • Why would that be better than anywhere else?
        A floating industrial facility in a location that gets an occasional typhoon doesn’t sound better to me than something onshore near a good harbor.

        • Because a floating plant will ride out the Tsunami’s wave easily, and the heat sink is all around them. NuScale is working with another company to put their nuclear modules on floating vessels which would be mored close to shore.
          The Russians are pretty far along in this concept.

    • Floating powerplants should be sited in very sheltered waters, preferably near the loads they serve. Tokyo bay comes to mind.

      On the other hand, deep water siting would negate the threat of tsunamis, if not rogue waves. A plant moored in deep water, that could submerge in times of bad weather might be the best solution.

  3. Centralized government policy constructs incentivizing and/or outright financing fission reactors is the only way these things will be built in the future… this is why all the startups are malarkey. Japan needs to divorce itself from the energy market drama, so it builds a bunch of big LWRs. When the time is ripe, the ‘regulatory foot dragging’ is noticeably absent. AFAIK the ‘new design’ first mentioned about 18 months ago.

    • They probably do have to be subsidized, due to the high risk of the project being canceled by the government partway through. It’s practically impossible to make any long term energy investment the Watermelons disapprove of, because of the risk that they’ll get power for a moment and render the investment a dead loss.

      This is becoming a systematic risk that’s crippling our civilization. Long term planning is impossible in an environment like this.

      • Good point. The cultural rot has gotten so bad and endemic, it starts threatening to stop anything that risks breaking the statu quo. The fact they are always aligned to some malignant foreign dictatorship (crippling the democratic West is generally good for them) ensures they have perpetual funding and political leverage.

        That’s why I think the path is outwards. Creating orthogonal solutions that nullify the dominance of these leeches of human spirit and their cleptocratic bosses.

        Creating an industrial base in space and then a civilization, is the most critical path for civilization growth now.

      • This is why factory built is so important, it is a shorter time from investment decision to completion than the electoral cycle.

      • That’s an advantage of plants on barges, or ships. If the local government goes stupid, the plant can be towed to a location that wants it.
        Of course this is also why they make great emergency generation facilities. If one could have been towed off shore of Fukushima Daiichi it could have stopped the meltdowns by powering cooling pumps, as well as supplying electrical power for the disaster recovery.

    • Practically speaking for Japan the only way to achieve energy independence is with nuclear. I doubt there is enough available land for renewables.

      • There’s plenty of land in Japan for solar,they have it but it’s expensive and intermittent,and it needs storage or fossil fueled plants.

  4. Totally unrelated but since it seemed to have gone below your radar, there is a new vid by Fraser Cain talking to an aeronautical engineer about magsails getting up to 25% light speed. May be worth a discussion

  5. Still trying to get ours prolonged in Belgium , seems that the electricity company play the clock to spoil our money

    • That is sort of the rational move, sadly. Because all it takes is just one anti-nuke government in the next ten years, and that money is down the drain.

      That’s the problem with almost all energy investment in anything the Greens don’t approve of: All they need to do is get power just once during the payback period, and your money spent on infrastructure, (Generally paid back over decades.) is up in flames. Look what Germany did: They didn’t just shut the plants down, they demolished large parts of them, at extra expense, just to make sure the decision was irreversible!

      We’re a low trust society now, and long term investments don’t happen in low trust societies.

      • Yes the west is a very low trust society. Only France, the UK, Poles, and Finns seem to have the ability to stick with nuclear.

        Poland should commit to overbuilding nuclear and then plan on selling extra energy to Germany as they will need it.

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