11 years since Fukushima disaster, Mitsubishi unveils design for ‘safer’ nuclear reactor

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) has teamed up with four Japanese utilities to develop an advanced nuclear reactor that it hopes will be safe enough to gain public acceptance.

The SRZ-1200 will be a light-water unit based on existing units of the same type but with enhanced safety features. The company aims to launch the new reactor by the mid-2030s.

The news comes as the Japanese government considers deploying next-generation nuclear power plants, which fell out of favour after the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi disaster.

According to MHI, the reactor’s name refers to its “safety, resilience and contribution to zero-carbon emissions”, as well as its 1.2GW power rating.

The other companies in the alliance are Hokkaido Electric Power, Shikoku Electric Power, Kansai Electric Power and Kyushu Electric Power.

MHI has so far developed a concept design for the reactor, and will now proceed to flesh that out to “ensure innovative nuclear technologies are available toward a stable energy supply for Japan … as early as possible”.

The move follows a speech by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in August, in which he said Japan would consider developing new reactors and restarting idled ones in the face of soaring energy costs.

Speaking on 24 August, Kishida told reporters that officials had been instructed to identify concrete measures by the end of the year, including ways of “gaining the understanding of the public”.

Mitsubishi has been central to Japan’s nuclear industry, having been involved in the construction and maintenance of all of the country’s 24 pressurised water units. It has also led efforts to restart the nuclear industry following Fukushima.

It commented: “Taking into account the Fukushima Daiichi accident, MHI Group strives to continuously enhance safety through the restart of existing nuclear power plants as well as the safe and stable operation upon restart.

“This is part of our contribution to society and we intend to continue this contribution through the development of advanced light water reactors which achieve the world’s highest level of safety.”

Image credit: Mitsubishi Heavy Industries


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