The second meeting of the “council on fast breeder development” (chaired by Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Hiroshige Seko), which will determine the policy for the development of next-generation fast breeder reactors, was held at METI on Oct. 27. METI presented a draft road map for fast breeder development, which states that in addition to a joint project with France, domestic development will also be considered for the development of a “demonstration reactor,” which is the stage after that of the prototype reactor Monju (in Tsuruga City, Fukui Prefecture), whose decommissioning is under consideration.
The development of fast breeder reactors consists of four stages: “experimental reactor” for basic scientific research; “prototype reactor” for establishing the technology for power generation; “demonstration reactor” to verify economic viability and so forth; and “commercial reactor” for actual commercial use.
The council’s meeting was held behind closed doors, but its secretariat gave a briefing after the meeting. According to the briefing, participants agreed that it is possible to develop a demonstration reactor domestically, taking advantage of the experience and technology gained from the Monju on reactor core design, handling of sodium, and so forth.
Nicolas Devictor, ASTRID program manager of the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), also participated in the meeting to explain the ASTRID demonstration reactor project, which France wants to start operating by around 2030. Devictor said that “Japan’s fast breeder technology and knowhow are extremely valuable,” expressing his expectations for the expansion of Japan-France cooperation.
The government plans to make a decision on a drastic review of the Monju project, including its decommissioning, at a meeting of cabinet ministers concerned with nuclear energy before the end of this year.