Japan to draft strategy on nuclear fusion

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Japan to draft strategy on nuclear fusion

The government plans to develop a strategy by spring on researching and developing nuclear fusion power generation, which could help it achieve its decarbonization goals.

Sanae Takaichi, minister for science and technology, said at a news conference on Sept. 13 that countries across the globe are trying to use nuclear fusion, a process that does not emit any carbon dioxide CO 2 We are no longer in the era of cooperation but the era of competition. We will examine the matter to draft a strategy while we look at the moves by other countries, including overseas private sector firms. Japan has accumulated nuclear fusion technologies since joining the ITER, an international joint project to build a fusion reactor.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida sees a clean energy strategy as an important part of his flagship policy platform, which he calls new capitalism. At a meeting of the government's expert panel on clean energy last month, Kishida instructed the participants to start discussions on the development of next-generation reactors, including fusion reactors.

The government wants to put a fusion reactor into practical use around the middle of the century. To achieve that goal, the government s new strategy would include support for small and mid-sized companies and venture firms, as well as ways to attract private sector investment.

Nuclear fusion combines atoms, a process that releases a great amount of thermal energy, unlike current nuclear power generation, which produces electricity by splitting atoms. It is the same energy source that powers the sun.

Even if international tensions increase, deuterium and other fuels for nuclear fusion power generation are less likely to become scarce, because fuels are abundant in the sea.

Nuclear fusion power generation does not need to burn fossil fuels, as it does not emit CO 2 at the same time. It does not produce radioactive waste that takes a long time to decay, as nuclear fission does.

Thirty-five countries, including Japan, the United States, and European nations, are currently participating in the ITER project and building a Fusion reactor in France.

The plan was originally scheduled to go online in 2018 but has been put off due to lack of funding. The assembly of the reactor core began in 2020 and project members are hoping to start operations in 2025.

Member nations are engaged in their own research and development. The U.S. government announced in March it would draft a strategy to develop a fusion reactor over the next decade. It is investing in new private-sector venture businesses.

Britain has already compiled its own strategy on nuclear fusion and is aiming to build a fusion energy plant in the 2040s.

China plans to build a test reactor on a similar scale as the one being built under the ITER project, with the goal of turning the test reactor into an operational one by the 2030s.

In Japan, some firms are supplying key parts for the ITER project, while Kyoto Fusioneering Ltd., a Kyoto University startup, joined the British program to develop a Fusion energy plant as a member in charge of its conceptual design.

Japanese private sector firms are mostly slow in developing nuclear fusion technologies, because they can't expect domestic projects as big as the ITER at this point.