UK and Japan join forces on nuclear energy

01 May 2014

Nuclear energy has been highlighted as a key area for increased cooperation between the UK and Japan as the two countries pledge to work together to tackle climate change and energy security in the run-up to the next meeting of G7 energy ministers.

In a joint statement issued at the start of a two-day visit to the UK by Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe, the two nations recognise the "severity" of the challenge posed to the world by climate change. Citing the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC's) Fifth Assessment Report, the statement says that the UK and Japan share the view that "ambitious" action is needed at the national and international level to combat the "urgent and potentially irreversible threat" posed by climate change.

"Both countries believe that nuclear energy provides a consistent and affordable source of energy, and has a key role to play in the future low carbon energy mix. The UK and Japan are working together with other G7 partners to enhance energy resilience worldwide, through promoting a diverse, low carbon energy mix and integrated energy markets"

Statement from the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change

To that end, the two countries wish to promote public and private sector cooperation, emphasising the need for investment in a "diverse, efficient and clean energy mix" to ensure both emissions reductions and security of energy supplies. The low-carbon policies vital for achieving these goals also bring economic opportunities, and the two governments have said they will continue to "maximise" UK-Japan commercial partnerships in the growing global low-carbon services and goods sector which they estimate to be worth $5 trillion per year.

The statement recognises the jointly-held beliefs of Japan and the UK that nuclear energy provides a "consistent and affordable" source of energy and has a key role in the future low carbon energy mix. It welcomes the "significant investment from Japanese industry, notably Hitachi and Toshiba", in the UK's nuclear new-build program. Horizon Nuclear Power, owned by Hitachi since late 2012, plans to build new Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR) plants in the UK at Wylfa and Oldbury, while Toshiba owns a 60% stake in the NuGen consortium which is proposing to build AP1000 reactors at a new site at Moorside in north-western England.

Japan and the UK have a long-standing history of nuclear cooperation dating back to the 1960s, and hold an annual bilateral Nuclear Dialogue, which has led to extensive cooperation over the years. The statement recognises ongoing developments through the dialogue leading to close collaboration, cooperation and information exchange in areas ranging from nuclear research to regulatory regimes, communication practices and nuclear decommissioning.

Energy security was reaffirmed by the G7 group of countries as a priority during their last round of meetings, held in The Hague in March, when it charged G7 energy ministers to meet to discuss ways to strengthen the group's collective energy security. The next round of G7 meetings is to be held in Brussels in June, and the UK-Japanese statement notes that the two intend to cooperate closely both leading up to and beyond the meeting of the energy ministers.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News