Current Status of Nuclear Power

Current Status of Nuclear Power in Japan

As of January 2014, Japan has a total of 48 nuclear power plants with a total installed capacity of 44,264 MW. As a result of the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, most of these have been shut down. The new Strategic Energy Plan approved by the Cabinet on April 11, 2014 states that “Nuclear power is an important base-load power source, contributing to stability of energy supply-demand structure.” It further notes that “judgment as to whether nuclear power plants meet the new regulatory requirements will be left to the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) and in case the NRA confirms the conformity of nuclear power plants with the new regulatory requirements, which are of the most stringent level in the world, GOJ will follow NRA’s judgment and will proceed with the restart of the nuclear power plants”. It would be desirable for nuclear power plants to resume operations as soon as possible.

The following nuclear power plants are under construction as of May 2014.

  • Chugoku Electric Power Company: Shimane Nuclear Power Station Unit 3
  • J-Power: Ohma Nuclear Power Station
  • Tokyo Electric Power Company: Higashidori Nuclear Power Station Unit 1

Current Status of Nuclear Power in the World

As of January 2014, 426 nuclear power plants are in operation across the world, with a total installed capacity of approximately 386 GW. In Western countries, as well as in Middle Eastern and Asian countries, there is an increasing trend towards the construction of new nuclear power plants. The New Policy Scenario of the World Energy Outlook 2013, released by the International Energy Agency (IEA), predicts total global installed capacity of nuclear power plants by 2035 of 578 GW, approximately 1.5 times the current level.

Current Status of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle

The new Strategic Energy Plan approved by the Cabinet on April 11, 2014, states that “GOJ will make efforts to reduce the volume and harmfulness of radioactive waste and create a nuclear fuel cycle that contributes to effective utilization of resources while adequately taking the past history into consideration and continuing to seek the understanding of relevant municipalities and the international community, and will promote reprocessing and plutonium use in LWRs”. It further notes that the GOJ will “proceed with such measures as completion of the Rokkasho reprocessing plant, construction of a MOX fuel processing plant, and completion of the Mutsu interim storage facility on the underlying premise of ensuring safety”.

The same Strategic Energy Plan also states, “GOJ remains committed to the policy of not possessing reserves of plutonium for which use is undetermined on the premise of peaceful use of plutonium. In order to achieve this policy effectively, GOJ will conduct an appropriate management and utilization of plutonium while paying due consideration to an appropriate balance between separation and utilization of plutonium. Also GOJ will promote R&D of fast reactors, etc., through international cooperation with the U.S. and France etc.”

The Plan also states the “Monju” fast reactor that “GOJ will reform any aspects of “Monju” research thoroughly taking into account lessons learnt from previous efforts and aim to compile the research results expected in the “Monju Research Plan”. Also GOJ will position “Monju” as an international research center for technological development, such as reducing the amount and toxic level of radioactive waste and technologies related to nuclear nonproliferation.”