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KEPCO chief aims to become leader in hydrogen use

  • May 21, 2021
  • , Nikkei , p. 13
  • JMH Translation

Kansai Electric Power chairman Sakakibara Sadayuki gave an interview to the Nikkei Shimbun and reiterated KEPCO’s aim to achieve zero carbon emissions in 2050 by “producing hydrogen with nuclear power to fuel thermal power generation, thereby becoming a leader in hydrogen usage.

 

Sakakibara envisions operating thermal power plants fueled by hydrogen produced by nuclear-generated electricity and heat. “Nuclear power and hydrogen are going to be crucial for achieving a zero-carbon society,” Sakakibara says. KEPCO has operated a hydrogen plant jointly with Iwatani Corporation and acquired various know-how. “KEPCO has the greatest potential for producing hydrogen in Japan,” he says.

 

KEPCO is also active in power generation overseas. “In the future, it may be possible to produce hydrogen overseas for consumption in Japan,” Sakakibara says. “We have launched a new organization to lead the initiative and establish a new business model.”

 

As for KEPCO’s nuclear power generation, which includes three reactors that started operating more than 40 years ago, Sakakibara says his company will “operate them safely so that they can make a significant contribution to Japan’s CO2 reduction.” The life of nuclear reactors can only be extended to 60 years. There are no concrete plans for building reactors or adding to existing facilities, Sakakibara says. “To maintain a certain number of operating reactors, the central government should make it a national policy to add new reactors, replace old ones, and develop small modular reactors.”

 

“I am well aware of the Japanese people’s negative sentiments toward nuclear power. But as a person representing a utility company, I am of the opinion that the best way we can contribute to our country will be to gain the trust of the nation by prioritizing safety and producing a steady supply of electricity.”

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