On October 25, the UK-Japan Nuclear Industry Forum, sponsored by the UK’s Department for Business and Trade (DBT) and the British Embassy in Japan, was held at the embassy in Tokyo, with additional support from the British Market Council, the Nuclear Industry Association (NIA), and the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum (JAIF).
Approximately a hundred people attended, representing 15 British companies and 31 Japanese companies (power companies, vendors, general contractors, trading companies, and others) to exchange information, opinions, and views.
At this—the seventh—forum, advanced nuclear technology, including small modular reactors (SMRs), was taken up as part of the main theme for the first time, along with decommissioning and waste management.
In her opening comments at the beginning of the forum, British Ambassador Julia LONGBOTTOM CMG referred to the Hiroshima Accord, which is the enhanced UK-Japan global strategic partnership agreed to at a UK-Japan summit working dinner in conjunction with the G7 Hiroshima Summit (May 19-21, 2023).
She reiterated the commitment to cooperation between the two countries on important nuclear energy issues, including SMRs, waste management, technology and diversity, nuclear fusion, nuclear safety, and public communications.
Citing the sharing of technical information on high-temperature gas-cooled reactors (HTGRs) and decommissioning at Fukushima Daiichi as examples, she also stressed that the UK would like to further deepen the existing UK-Japan partnership.
Next, ARAI Shiro, president of JAIF, said that amid soaring global energy prices, Japan’s nuclear power policy had enabled decarbonization activities and international cooperation to proceed and make progress.
Also to speak was Tom GREATREX, chief executive of the NIA, who made the following comments in a video message: “In the UK, too, nuclear power is at a major crossroads. I hope the forum will provide an opportunity for the nuclear industries in both countries to grow.” He expressed his desire that the forum would be meaningful for international business exchanges.
Among the other speakers at the forum on “New Nuclear Plant Construction and Advanced Nuclear Technologies” were the following persons:
- KAMINAGA Susumu, president of Rolls-RoyceJapan Co., Ltd.
- Mikal BØE, chief executive officer of Core Power
- Tristram DENTON, commercial development director at MoltexFLEX
- Rob BUCKINGHAM, director of RACE and JET Decommissioning at the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA)
Kaminaga said that the SMRs that Rolls-Royce is developing in European countries are low in cost, have low levels of carbon, and can potentially produce hydrogen. He stressed their advantage of being able to connect to existing infrastructure and maintain a stable balance with renewable energies.
Bøe, who had also given a presentation at the JAIF Annual Conference in April 2023, advocated “fusing” nuclear power with the maritime sector, describing prospects for floating nuclear power plants (NPPs) that could supply clean fuel to vessels for their own operation. He estimated the business opportunity at the level of a trillion dollars, including possibilities for supplying energy to remote areas and islands, and was enthusiastic about cutting the 1.1 billion tons of CO2 emitted by the global shipping industry. He called on Japanese manufacturers and shipbuilders to participate proactively.
Next, Denton and Buckingham made presentations, respectively, on molten chloride fast reactors (MCFRs) and the development of essential technology and human resources. Toward effective social implementation in the future, they emphasized the importance of securing supply chains as well as international partnerships in such areas as fuel, pumping equipment, material development, and robotics.
An ongoing purpose of the forum is to promote coordination among Japanese and British nuclear-related companies. To that end, there were panel exhibitions by British firms, and, for the first time, opportunities were provided for individual interviews with British and Japanese companies.