1999: The Year in Review
FOR THE NUCLEAR POWER industry in Japan, 1999 was a year
of both advances and challenges. On the one hand, the number of
nuclear power plants under construction grew a part of Japan's
efforts to meet its ever-escalating energy needs in the coming
decades. At the same time, however, September's criticality accident
at the JCO facility in Ibaraki Prefecture forced the industry
to take action in order to reinforce confidence in nuclear energy.
Introduction of New Power Plants
PREPARING TO meet Japan's energy needs for the 21st century,
the year 1999 was productive in terms of new power plant construction.
Tohoku Electric Power Co. began construction at the end of 1998
of its new Higashidori Nuclear Power Station in Aomori Prefecture.
This plant is constructing a boiling water reactor (BWR) capable
of generating 1.1 million kW; it represents the fourth nuclear
power reactor for the company and will be the 54th in Japan. Covering
an area of approximately 378 square meters, it is the first to
be constructed at a new site in Japan in a decade. Fuel assemblies
are slated for loading into the reactor by September 2004, and
commercial operations are projected for July 2005.
Meanwhile, two Advanced Boiling Water Reactors (ABWRs) are under
construction: Chubu Electric Power Co.'s Hamaoka Nuclear Power
Station No. 5 Unit in Shizuoka Prefecture was initiated in March
1999; and the Hokuriku Electric Power Co.'s Shika Nuclear Power
Station No. 2 Unit in Ishikawa Prefecture began construction in
August 1999. This ABWR technology has been developed since the
late 1970s to enhance safety, operations and cost efficiency,
based on improved and proven BWR technologies. To date, two units
have been in operation at TEPCO's Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power
Station in Niigata Prefecture since 1996 and 1997. The Hamaoka
No. 5 Unit, with a generation output of 1.38 million kW, is scheduled
to begin operations in January 2005, and the Shika No. 2 reactor,
with an output of 1,358 million kW, is scheduled for March 2006.
In addition to these, a plan to construct the Electric Power
Development Co.'s Ohma Nuclear Power Station in Ohma, Aomori Prefecture,
received government approval in August 1999, and was added to
the government's plan for power development. The Ohma power plant
will supply electricity to nine electric utilities in Japan. It
is the first ABWR in the world designed to use MOX fuel fully.
The loading of MOX fuel will involve step-by-step procedures to
confirm its performance: at first it will co-use uranium fuel,
then the percentage of MOX fuel will be increased gradually until
full core is achieved. Construction of the plant is expected to
commence in March 2002 and operations are projected to begin in
July 2007, adding 1.383 million kW to Japan's electric power grid.