MHI tools up for surge in construction

09 June 2008

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) has announced a major project to increase capacity at its Kobe shipyard, where it will double capacity for large nuclear power plant components.


Akira Sawa, head of the company's nuclear power division, announced his major goals at a briefing attended by reporters for the Japan Atomic Industry Forum's Atoms in Japan publication.


According to Atoms In Japan, the company will double capacity for forging reactor pressure vessels and internal reactor components with the aim of boosting its share of the global reactor business. It should be able to produce all the major components (reactor vessel, main coolant pumps, steam generators, steam turbines and generators) for two nuclear power units per year. It will be hiring 1000 more employees for its nuclear division, taking the total to around 5000 by 2013.


Already, MHI's Futami plant in Kobe can produce vessels for two-, three- and four-loop pressurized water reactors (PWRs), including a 590 tonne model for the 1538 MWe APWR. After the upgrade the plant would be expected to handle even larger components. At present, the largest reactor in the world is Areva's EPR at 1650 MWe, and in future the largest could be expected to reach 1800 MWe and require a correspondingly larger pressure vessel.


Sawa said his company expects to gain 25-30% of an export market of 130 reactors by 2030. His figure represents a target market that does not include the 12 units forthcoming in Japan, or the 20 and 110 light water reactors to be built in Russia and China respectively by that date. Russian and Chinese planners are preparing domestic facilities for their own needs as well as for export.


In total, MHI is to invest ¥40-50 billion ($380-470 million) in its facilties at Kobe and Takasago. In addition to fossil, renewable and nuclear energy systems, MHI constructs ships, trains, aircraft, rockets and robots at its plants.