Region/Countries: Asia, Japan Industry: Energy, Power and Control Date: January 2017

Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: Opportunities for Wisconsin companies to assist in the process

Japan is currently working to decommission nuclear reactors, and the vast costs associated with these efforts are putting a major strain on Japan’s budget.

The country has decided to decommission seven nuclear reactors over a long period of time, among them the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant, considered the most challenging project in the wake of the disaster there. The Law for the Regulation of Nuclear Source Material, Nuclear Fuel Material and Reactors stipulates that, as a rule, reactors can operate for 40 years. Of the 50 reactors in the country, close to one-third have already been in operation for at least 30 years. This means that many reactors will be ready for decommissioning in the near future.

Decommissioning the nuclear reactors at Fukushima is estimated to cost, over the next 30-40 years, $71 billion for decommissioning, $35 billion for nuclear decontamination and $14 billion for storage in intermediary facilities. In December 2016, decommissioning of the fast-cooled Monju reactor was decided upon. The cost of this process is estimated to be at least $3.35 billion over 30 years. Shikoku Electric Power presented Ehime Prefecture with a decommissioning plan in December 2016 for Reactor #1 at the Ikata Nuclear Power Plant (located in Ikata, Ehime Prefecture, with an output of 566,000 KW). The plan puts the decommissioning 40 years in the future, with $40 million in costs expected. Given that the decommissioning technology is still being developed, the costs may greatly exceed this projection.

This represents a major business opportunity for firms with the technology to decommission reactors. Reactor decommissioning technologies include radioactive water processing, nuclear waste reduction and removal, and conveyance and storage of nuclear materials. Efficiently and effectively developing these technologies requires properly applying a wide range of technologies from the fields of bioscience, sensor technology, visualization and nuclear-resistant electronics to robots, drones and other equipment.

There is currently a need to rapidly expand development of these and other technologies. If technological advancement proceeds, then the time required to decommission reactors will decrease, yielding various business benefits.