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Japanese corporations are planning a new generation of nuclear reactors


The Fukushima meltdown raised few doubts about nuclear power in Japan. Hitachi now wants to develop a new light-water generation together with the US company General Electric.

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Nuclear reactor (symbolic image): Turning away from the policy of not using new nuclear energy

Photo: Rupert Oberhäuser / IMAGO

Japan's plans to develop next-generation nuclear power plants are taking shape.

As the Japanese business newspaper "Nikkei" reported on Friday, the industrial group Hitachi and its US partner General Electric want to develop a new type of light water reactor.

Safety problems would be addressed in a targeted manner that contributed to the meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in 2011 as a result of an earthquake and tsunami.

Previously, the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries group announced that it also wanted to develop a new light water reactor.

Instead of the originally announced policy of not using new nuclear energy, the government now wants to promote the construction of next-generation reactors.

The argument: A stable power supply without CO2 emissions in the resource-poor island nation.

Japan, the third largest economy in the world ahead of Germany, has set itself the goal of generating 20 to 22 percent of its electricity supply from nuclear energy by the fiscal year 2030 (starting April 1).

The light water reactor planned by the joint venture GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy is based on the same technology as the boiling water reactors used in Fukushima.

But the new model will be able to cool nuclear fuel even during a power outage, the Nikkei reported.

For this purpose, temperature differences should be used to achieve a natural circulation of the cooling water.

During the 2011 GAU, the power supply required for the cooling process failed as a result of the tsunami.

The new reactors also featured improved venting processes that filter out radioactive gases and release the cleaned steam.

During the 2011 disaster in Fukushima, hydrogen explosions occurred due to pressure build-up in the containment and delayed venting.

Commercialization of the new reactors is scheduled for the mid-2030s.

Competitor Mitsubishi Heavy is also planning a new type of light water reactor at the same time, which is said to be safer than existing models.

After the Fukushima disaster, Japan introduced stricter safety standards that generally limited the operation of reactors to 40 years.

However, operation for another 20 years is possible if the safety devices are brought up to date.

So far, 17 nuclear reactors have met the safety requirements, 10 of which have since been restarted.

The rest should follow.


Source: spiegel

All business articles on 2022-09-30

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