Japanese consortium plans next generation nuclear reactor

Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is teaming up with four utility companies, including Kansai Electric Power Co, to develop a next-generation nuclear power reactor.

Hokkaido Electric Power Co, Shikoku Electric Power Co and Kyushu Electric Power Co are also in the consortium behind the concept and design of “SRZ-1200”, a 1.2-million-kilowatt advanced light water reactor, it added.

In August, Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida urged the restart of more idled nuclear plants and a fresh look at developing next-generation reactors, in a major shift of nuclear energy policy a decade after the Fukushima disaster.

The consortium aims for mid-2030 completion of the project for reactors that are safer than the current pressurised water type, according to reports.

More than a decade after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami triggered the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl, nuclear power remains a difficult issue in Japan, where only a handful of its 30-odd plants are currently operating.

However, opinion appears to be shifting. 

Earlier this year, Kishida said that Tokyo will take “concrete steps” to restart plants that suspended operations after the Fukushima disaster.

Kishida has pushed for the revival of the country’s nuclear power sector since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine exposed how dependent the world’s third-largest economy has become on imported oil and gas following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.