Reports/Opinions

Nuclear Energy (Reviews and Prospects of ICEF 2017 Concurrent Sessions)

Posted by Noriko Endo March 30, 2018 Other, Keio University

The present status of nuclear energy policy, nuclear technology development, and future challenges mainly on Japan-US cooperation were discussed. Details are below.

- Our primary energy demand today is about 150,000 terawatt-hours, and 85% of it is derived from fossil fuels. Looking forward to 2050 and committing ourselves to COP 21 in Paris, we will need to find 200,000 terawatt-hours of clean energy.

- Nuclear energy, is a “zero emissions” energy resource, tremendously scalable and an infinite energy resource.

- The development of and investments into renewable energy are likely to accelerate, but the main sources, such as solar and wind power, only provides unstable output, and cannot meet the rise in demand from a population expansion and innovations.

- Governments must conduct thorough safety measures and implement policy that will allow for the further development of nuclear energy even in a liberalized electricity market, and maintain social accountability.

- 40% of current light water reactors are expected to be decommissioned by 2040. The development of fourth-generation reactors is necessary and many projects are being initiated on the national government level as well as the private sector level. It has been predicted that international competition is likely to become severe, mainly led by Russia and China.

- The key factors related to the development of fourth generation reactors include requirements of safety, waste reduction, nuclear non-proliferation resistance, and economic viability.

- The U.S. began promoting its IFR plan (Integral Fast Reactor, an integrated fuel production cycle) from the 1960s. In order to transition its nuclear power policy, in 1996, it stopped experimental Sodium-cooled Fast Reactors and halted the IFR plan, but as for metal fuel, it continues dry processing. If the small scale of the initial investment is to be considered, some suggested that the IFR’s restructuring was a valid approach.

Having had this discussion today, it seems to me that Japan, which carries the burden of dealing with the debris, decontamination & decommissioning of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, should consider possibilities of collaboration with the U.S., with which it holds close business relations and national security ties, in addition to its current collaboration with France and other countries.