Published on Wednesday January 12 2011
Japan will begin this year to stockpile enriched uranium for nuclear power generation purposes in order to meet global demand for nuclear power expected to rise, Japanese media reported.
The Japanese government, in cooperation with the private sector, aim to secure a stable supply of fuels to enhance its energy security and pitch the country's nuclear power generation technologies to emerging economies, Nikkei said.
The paper noted that although utilities currently hold reserves for their own nuclear power plants, the new initiative will mark the first time the government has stockpiled emergency supplies of nuclear fuel, and it plans to accumulate 120 tons through fiscal 2015.
Japan consumes more than 1,600 tons of enriched uranium per year. Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd. enriches about 4% of domestic demand, while utilities import the remainder from countries such as the U.S., Russia and France.
The government will use two to four storage facilities operated by uranium-processing companies and will cover costs to purchase uranium, as well as the interest on maintenance expenses, the paper said, adding that stockpiling costs are estimated to reach about 24 billion yen (about $290,000,000) over five years, of which the government plans to finance around 400 million yen.
Japan and Jordan signed an agreement in September for nuclear power cooperation, paving the way for the export of Japan's technology in that field. Japan hopes to win more deals to provide nuclear energy technology with other countries in the Middle East including Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Turkey.