Nuclear exports remain Japanese priority

07 December 2011

Japan's lower house has approved four international nuclear cooperation agreements in a sign of commitment to nuclear exports.


Emerging nuclear nations with export potential Jordan and Vietnam should soon begin trade of nuclear goods and services with Japan, while fully developed nuclear power users Russia and South Korea will renew old agreements. Four separate bills were approved by the lower House of Representatives yesterday and passed on to the upper House of Councillors where they are also expected to pass without problem.


Despite this clear support for nuclear trade and export, Japan itself is currently developing a completely new energy strategy, having torn up the previous one in reaction to the accident at Fukushima Daiichi. While nuclear energy has been noted to remain as one of four central pillars of policy (along with fossil fuels, renewables and efficiency improvements) the extent of the government's spoken commitment is likely to remain low for some time. Separately, approval to bring a number of operable reactors back from maintenance outages has been withheld, prolonging a nation-wide energy shortage.


In Jordan's emerging nuclear market, South Korea has been contracted for a major research reactor and begun developing proposals for a nuclear power plant, which could reduce energy imports and desalinate seawater. As yet, Japan has had little or no involvement with Canadian, South Korean, Belgian and Chinese firms taking visible roles.


In Vietnam, however, Japan has a higher profile and its companies are lined up to supply the country's second nuclear power plant. Russian contractors are slated to complete construction of the first in 2020, the Japanese plant starting up four years later.


Intergovernmental agreements for both of these projects were signed in October 2010. At that time Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, said that Japan Atomic Power Co. (Japco) and the International Nuclear Energy Development of Japan Co. Ltd. (JINED), would work with Vientamese state utility EVN on the nuclear power plant project. Japanese firms and agencies would finance up to 85% of the total cost.


In February 2011 Japco signed an agreement with EVN to advance the feasibility study, and in mid-2011 Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) confirmed that it would remain part of the Japanese project, despite the crippling effect of the Fukushima accident and subsequent government decisions on compensation.


Researched and written
by World Nuclear News