Japanese trading company Sojitz plans to establish a joint venture with Cybernetix of France to use robots to dismantle nuclear power reactors in Japan.
Sojitz has acquired a 7.1% stake in the French robot manufacturer for some Y200-300 billion ($1.6-2.5 billion). Cybernetix has gained some eight years of experience of dismantling nuclear facilities, mainly in France. It supplies remotely operated systems to the nuclear industry for the maintenance, inspection and repair of facilities, as well as for clean-up and dismantling/deconstruction purposes. The company also supplies robots to the oil and gas industries.
Sojitz, together with its subsidiary e-Energy, plans to enter the business of dismantling nuclear reactors with the use of remotely-controlled systems. Sojitz is also considering establishing a joint venture company in Japan with Cybernetix with such a purpose.
Sojitz expects the market for decommissioning nuclear power plants in Japan to open up after 2010, when the country's current operating reactors begin to reach their end of their operating lives. The company estimates the market could be worth Y2.9 trillion ($24 billion) during the next 30 to 40 years.
In November 2006, Cybernetix signed a contract with Sojitz for the supply, installation and commissioning of three remotely operated arms and specific carrier systems dedicated to dismantling of steam generating units at the Tokai 1 nuclear reactor in Japan.
WNA's Decommissioning Nuclear Facilities information paper
WNA's Nuclear Power in Japan information paper