Spent MOX Fuel to be Sent to France for Reprocessing
The Nuclear Reprocessing Organization of Japan (NuRO) and the Federation of Electric Power Companies announced on June 12 that plans for an experimental study of whether it is possible to reprocess spent MOX fuel had been approved by NuRO’s operation committee. For details, see CNIC Statement: Stop reprocessing in France and get out of the nuclear fuel cycle (June 28, 2023).
Shipments of Spent Fuel from Fugen to France Delayed
At a liaison council meeting of the national, Fukui Prefectural and Tsuruga City governments on May 26 to discuss decommissioning measures for the Monju reactor (FBR prototype, 280 MW), R&D Bureau Director Chihara Yoshiyuki of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports and Science (MEXT) explained that the shipments of spent nuclear fuel to France from the Fugen reactor (ATR prototype, 165 MW), similarly undergoing decommissioning, were being delayed. A contract had been signed with Orano, the company in France, that was to reprocess spent fuel from Fugen, but Orano revealed in correspondence that cushioning material for the shipment casks being manufactured had failed to meet its design criteria. They explained that dimensional and other specifications needed to be changed and that it appeared the shipments would not start until halfway through fiscal year 2023. Director Chihara also noted that due to the 2024 Paris Olympics, France’s harbors would not be available for use until March 2025 at the earliest.
In response to this, Vice-Governor Sakuramoto Hiroshi of Fukui Prefecture expressed dissatisfaction that this was the third time the starting and finishing dates of the shipments had been delayed and that the reliability of shipping plans for Monju’s sodium coolant and spent nuclear fuel could also be affected.
Mitsubishi Electric and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Establish Jointly Funded Company through Consolidation of Generator Business
Mitsubishi Electric and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries announced on May 29 that they had formally concluded a contract for integrating their generator businesses. Scheduled to go into effect on April 1, 2024, it will create a joint venture that will merge the respective generator businesses of each company. Mitsubishi Electric is to have a 51% funding share, and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, 49%. The design, manufacturing and quality control of their thermal, nuclear, and hydroelectric power generators will be integrated, and this it is said will increase the profitability of their business and strengthen its market competitiveness.
17 Companies Finance Nuclear Fusion Start-up
In an article dated May 17, the Japanese economic daily Nihon Keizai Shimbun grandly proclaimed, “The public and private sectors will jointly create a Japanese association for nuclear fusion power, the next-generation energy technology. The newsworthiness of this is doubtful, but the recipient of the funding will be Kyoto Fusioneering Ltd., a company established in 2019 by Kyoto University researchers. On the same date, the company said, “We will accelerate R&D on peripheral equipment for nuclear fusion reactors and intensify expansion of our business based in the US and UK.” The company made the following announcement:
“Kyoto Fusioneering Ltd. has raised funds totaling 10.5 billion yen through a Series C funding round. In addition to the previous investors, among which JIC Venture Growth Investments was lead investor, 11 new investors have joined in the Series C round, bringing the total underwriters to 17 and procuring 10.5 billion yen. With this, our company’s total financing has reached 12.2 billion yen.
“Utilizing the funds we acquired through this funding round and the knowledge our investors possess, we will accelerate R&D of nuclear fusion peripheral equipment and plants, which are our main products. We will also intensify our business expansion through our US and UK bases, and forge ahead for the world’s earliest realization and industrialization of fusion energy. At the same time, as our company grows in size, we will work to strengthen our governance and strive for sound corporate management.”
In addition to the government fund JIC Venture Growth Investment, companies undertaking third-party allotment of new shares included Mitsubishi UFJ Bank, Mitsubishi Corp., Mitsui & Co., J-POWER, K4 Ventures (a Kansai Electric Power Co. subsidiary), INPEX, JGC Holdings Corporation, the JAFCO Group and others, totaling 17. The funding ratios have not been made public, but it appears the newly acquired funding constitutes about 20% of the total.
10-plus Companies from Japan Invest in UK Company Developing Offshore NPP
According to a Kyodo News report on May 24, it was learned that about a dozen Japanese companies, including Onomichi Dockyard Co. (in Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture) and Imabari Shipbuilding Co. (in Imabari City, Ehime Prefecture), had invested roughly 80 million dollars in a UK start-up planning a project for developing an offshore-type nuclear power plant (NPP).
The funding recipient is Core Power, established in 2018, which has been developing floating NPPs jointly with other companies, including the US company TerraPower, founded by Bill Gates, who also founded Microsoft.