The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) will use the High Temperature Engineering Test Reactor (HTTR) of the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) to develop technology for producing hydrogen, a source of decarbonized energy. The HTTR is expected to become the next-generation nuclear reactor. MEXT and METI plan to start construction of a hydrogen production plant next to the HTTR around 2025. The ministries will propose earmarking a total of about 3 billion yen in the FY2022 budget to cover construction and other costs.
Currently, hydrogen is primarily produced through the high-temperature reaction of methane and water, using heat from burning fossil fuels. The HTTR emits heat of over 900 degrees Celsius, which is much higher than heat from conventional nuclear reactors. JAEA had been studying methods of hydrogen production as an source of energy that does not emit carbon dioxide (CO2), and as a result, expects to be able to produce a stable supply of hydrogen. Such technology has been positioned as an important topic in the Japanese government’s “Basic Energy Plan” revealed in July 2021. (Abridged)