Mitsubishi Heavy moving closer to new reactor

Big plans: Izumisawa gestures during an interview in Tokyo. Mitsubishi Heavy is almost finished designing its next-generation nuclear reactor, paving the way for construction to begin as Japan shifts its energy focus to develop more atomic power. — Bloomberg

TOKYO: Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd is almost complete designing its next-generation nuclear reactor, paving the way for construction to begin as Japan shifts its energy focus to develop more atomic power.

The Tokyo-based company can start building the facility once a site for it in Japan is established and some late-stage tests are completed, according to president Seiji Izumisawa.

It will take about 10 years to construct and start operations.

“Once a site is decided, things will move forward,” he said in an interview.

“The hope is that a selection will be made not too far in the future, so that knowledge and experience surrounding the reactor construction can be passed on to the next generation of engineers,” he said.

The Japanese manufacturer is developing the SRZ-1200, an advanced light water reactor, in coordination with major Japanese utilities, including Kansai Electric Power Co. Izumisawa didn’t comment on specific sites where it could be built.

Japan is part of a nuclear revival taking place globally as countries look for emission-free electricity and energy security.

Atomic plants are still a politically sensitive issue in Japan after the 2011 Fukushima disaster.

Yet Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s government, in its “green transformation” plan last year, said it will utilise renewables and nuclear “to the fullest extent”.

Japan started the review process of its national energy strategy last month, which may dictate the country’s future power mix beyond 2030.

As part of the strategy, the trade ministry is considering allowing the expansion of nuclear power plants as old reactors are being decommissioned, according to a report.

Mitsubishi Heavy shares have nearly doubled this year, hitting a record last Friday, on investor expectations over its energy and defense business.

The company, which sets gas turbine engines, nuclear and defense as its core business segments in the latest mid-term management plan targets boosting revenue in the three areas by one trillion yen (US$6.3bil) by the end of the financial year 2026 (FY26).

The firm had 46% of the global market share for large-scale turbines in FY23 and has seen strong demand from countries, including the United States and China, Izumisawa said.

Demand from South-East Asia could also rise in the future as the region develops and the need for electricity increases, he said.

Mitsubishi Heavy also targets doubling its revenue from its defense and space business to one trillion yen by FY26, on the back of Japan’s recent move to bolster defense spending. — Bloomberg

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