Stephen Stapczynski, Bloomberg News
EnergiesNet.com 03 02 2023
Japan is considering bringing forward construction of a prototype fusion nuclear reactor, according to a local report, the latest step by the nation to adopt atomic energy to hit ambitious green goals and curb dependence on overseas fuel.
A government panel on Tuesday will discuss bringing forward construction of a unit from its previous outlook of starting work by about mid-century, Nikkan Kogyo reported without attribution. The panel, which didn’t specify a new timeframe, had considered speeding up the process by five years, according to the report.
The policy could be adopted into Japan’s national strategy in March, Nikkan Kogyo said.
The global energy crisis is prompting Japan to rethink nuclear energy, with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida calling for the construction of next-generation reactors and restarting idled units. Meanwhile, the government’s promise to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 will require Japan to depend more on nuclear.
While there was a breakthrough in fusion technology late last year, it’s still a long way to becoming commercially viable, let alone delivering enough clean energy to help wean the world off fossil fuels and limit climate change.
Fusion technology is different from fission, which is now widely used in commercial nuclear power plants. Fission creates energy by splitting atoms, but also produces radioactive waste. Fusion is the same process that powers stars, and a breakthrough could provide around-the-clock clean power with less risk and waste.
Further details of the plan to move up construction of Japan’s first fusion reactor will be decided around 2025 during an interim check-in, Nikkan Kogyo said.
–With assistance from Ryotaro Nakamaru.
bloomberg.com 02 28 2023