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Civil Use of Nuclear Energy with Nuclear Fuel Cycle The Challenge for the Sustainable use of Nuclear Energy in Japan Taro HOKUGO March 23, 2006 This presentation includes his personal views and does not necessarily reflect the policy of Japan The Resources of Electricity Generation in Japan
March 23, 2006
This presentation includes his personal views and does not necessarily reflect the policy of Japan
New Energy resources
Total Production of
935.5 billion kWh
Result in fiscal year 2003
Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry
-State of Nuclear Power Generation-
・53 power plants are in operation (June, 2006,Ministry of Economy Trade, and Industry (METI))
・Capacity of Nuclear Power generation is 47,000MW (id.)
・The government published its policy either to maintain current rate of the dependency on nuclear power in electricity production, 30 – 40 %, or to increase it. (Framework for Nuclear Energy Policy, October 11, 2005, Japan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC))
・The government recognizes that nuclear power generation can contribute to the stable supply of Energy and the prevention of global warming (Id.)
・Japan is a member of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) as a “non-nuclear-weapon state”, so that its nuclear energy use is limited to peaceful purposes and under the full scope safeguards of the International Atomic Energy Agency(IAEA).
・In addition, Japan accepts some restrictions of bilateral atomic energy agreement with some countries which offer nuclear fuels, initial technologies, some services.
・As a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), regulating its export of the devices which could be the key to nuclear technology in consistent with the London Guideline II (http://www.nuclearsuppliersgroup.org/)
-The Level of Technology-
・Although the experimental power plant was developed by Japan, all of current operating plants are either BWR or PWR, whose basic designs were those by GE or WH.
・However, some companies such as Toshiba (BWR), Hitachi (BWR) and Mitsubishi (PWR) has substantial technologies to construct civil nuclear power plants by them selves.
・National own technologies for enrichment and reprocessing
・Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) is doing research and development of nuclear technologies, including reprocessing, Fast Breading Reactor (FBR) and nuclear fusion energy.
・The confidenceof international community
- Compliance of the obligations ofNPT
- Restrictions from Atomic Energy Agreements
Ex: Requirement of the approval by supplying
- Informal substantial control of NSG
Core devices and technologies are under its control
- International Politics
Although NPT itself ordains the “inalienable right” to
“develop research, production anduse of nuclear
energy for peaceful purposes” (article IV), the reality of
the world politics has never admitted world distrusted
countries to engage in these activities
・The Basic Legal Structure
- Nuclear Safety Regulation System
Requirement from the Nuclear Safety Treaty
Ex: Regulatory agency functionally separated from the
implementing agency of nuclear energy use
Regulation on each step of decision of the place of the
cite, design of the plant, the construction, and the
- Nuclear Liability Law in which liability for the accident is
channeled to the operators
The establishment and equipment suppliers can not
engaged in the construction and maintenances without
The practical remedy in the case of accidents
Japan is implementing nuclear fuel cycle program, in which the spent nuclear fuel should be reprocessed and divided into nuclear fuel materials (uranium and plutonium ) and fission products, which should be disposed of as the high level nuclear waste. (Framework for Nuclear Energy Policy, October 11, 2005, JAEC)
The reserve-production ratio for the known amount of deposits of uranium is only about 85 (years) (OECD /NEA-IAEA “URANIUM2003”) , but if we use implement nuclear fuel cycle using FBR, it would rise up to 2,550 (id.).
Cool down Facility
Temporary storage facilities
From the website of METI (http://www.atom.meti.go.jp)
Processing Capacity per Year: 800t
Max Processing Capacity per Day: 4.8tU
Max Capacity of SF Storage: 3,000tU
Ground Area: 3800,000 m2
Village of Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture
From the website of JNFL (http://www.JNFL.co.jp)
Fast Breeder Reactors (FBR)
From the website of METI (http://www.atom.meti.go.jp)
Thermal power: 714MW
Electric power: 270MW
From the website of JAEA (http://www.jaea.go.jp)
・Reprocessing by a private enterprise:
Japan Nuclear Fuel limited (JNFL)
・Safety Regulations on Reprocessing Plant
Provisions for Reprocessing – The Nuclear Reactor
・Strict Inspection of Safeguards
Strict requirement from the non-proliferation concern in
NPT and some additional agreements with IAEA
・Account Reserve for Future Reprocessing Cost
The cost of reprocessing arises after 5-10 years after the
use of the fuel. To make such lag time consistent with the
market system, electricity companies are required
allocate the predicted cost in the reserve at the time of
operation using the fuel.
・Reserve Fund for the Disposal of HLW
The Act for the Disposal of HLW (May, 2000) established
the reserve fund for this purpose which is controlled out
side the electricity companies. Each electricity company
has to pay to this fund depending on the volume of the
use of the fuel.
・Process to get the Local Consent
・Government Invested R & D
Reprocessing, FBR, Disposal of HLW, Enrichment, etc.
・International Concern: non-proliferation
Plutonium could be a material for nuclear weapons.
Reprocessing is always suspected from international
community. In addition to the inspection of IAEA, the plant
of JNFL is designed to produce mixture of plutonium and
uranium, not pure plutonium.
Reprocessing is a kind of chemical factory, which is likely
to have leaking. But in this case, leaked liquid would be
Current FBR, Monju, uses liquid sodium as refrigerant.
It caused leaking of sodium in Dec 1995, and it caused
suspect on the safety of FBR among public.
・Economical Efficiency (1)
The economical efficiency of nuclear power is considered to be “by no means inferior to other resources of electricity” (The report on Jan 23, 2005, the Subcommittee on the Cost Analysis, Electricity Utility Industry Council, METI)
On the other hand, lag time and lead time of some parts of the cost, uncertainty of the back end solution, and the relatively high initial investment cost for the facilities were concerned in the deregulation on the electricity industry in the amendment of the Electric Utility Law in 2003. (Ex: the report on Feb.15, 2003, Electricity Utility Industry Council, METI)
・Economical Efficiency (2)
When the government decided “Framework for Nuclear Energy Policy” (October 11, 2005, JAEC), the different of the cost between two options, Direct Disposal Option to dispose directly the spent fuel without reprocessing, and Nuclear Cycle Option to have reprocessing the spent fuel and dispose of the HLW which dose not include uranium or plutonium.
The conclusion was that the cycle option would be more expensive than the direct option by 10 %, reserving some possibility of change of cost depending on the cost of the policy change. (Framework for Nuclear Energy Policy, October 11, 2005, JAEC)
The compliance of international obligations
The reputation as constitutionally peaceful country
Since it includes some new technologies, R & D and the accumulated experience of operation, in addition to strict enforcement of regulations, would be important.
Furthermore, without getting public understanding about the issue, the projects would not be forwarded, in the circumstance where the local consent is substantially necessary to do it.
・Economical Efficiency of Nuclear Power in General
It has been increased by the growth of size, and improvement of operations. The problem of lead time and lag time of the cost is mostly solved by the accounting system provided by law, so far, although it was an issue in the Deregulation of the industry.
Focus of economic efficiency is now mostly on the cost of nuclear fuel cycle.
・ Economical Efficiency of Nuclear Fuel Cycle
At this point, it depends on how properly the reprocessing factory woks. And as for future FBR, no one can tell the economical efficiency now.
Nuclear fuel cycle would be a sustainable use of Nuclear Energy, if successful.
On the other hand, there is still strong skepticism on the perspective of Nuclear Fuel Cycle Policy. In addition, it is also a non-proliferation issue.
However, the factors affecting the perspective are the matter of human endeavor, not physical limitations. And they have been solved to some extent.
Thus, I think that Nuclear Energy with fuel cycle would be a “good energy” for Japan, as long as it is the country that is trusted to have the peaceful nature, and that has the ability and the eagerness to continue R & D to solve arisen problems.