Reduce / Reuse / Recycle

January 7, 2004


Total Cost of Nuclear Fuel Cycle to Reach 19 Trillion Yen

Keywords: Government Non-manufacturing industry Nuclear Power Reduce / Reuse / Recycle 

The Federation of Electric Power Companies, a body composed of 10 electric power utilities, released an estimate that the total cost of operating the nuclear fuel cycle (NFC) in Japan over 72 years, starting in 2006 when reprocessing plants begin operation until termination of the program in 2078, will add up to 18.80 trillion yen (approximately US $169.37 billion at 1US$=111 yen). These costs relate to the following factors: transportation, interim storage and reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel discharged by nuclear power plants around the nation; processing spent fuel back into fuel; back-end costs for uranium enrichment plants; and costs related to the decommission of reprocessing plants.

This provisional estimate was disclosed at a meeting held on December 25, 2003 of the Advisory Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, a consultative organ of the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry. It's said that these final treatment costs, amounting to almost 19 trillion yen, will affect the cost of power generation by "0.99 to 1.53 yen per kWh." The Federation held back these figures as an industrial secret until recently, but it is thought that the decision to release them stemmed from the sense of urgency felt by electric utilities in the Federation about impending cost competition associated with deregulation of the electric power industry.

Currently, there are 53 nuclear power plants in Japan. The electricity market has long been dominated by 10 regional electric companies, one set up for each region. However, deregulation is already under way, although it is now limited to large-scale industrial plants and department stores. The scope of deregulation will expand in future to include medium-scale industrial plants and office buildings in FY 2004, and small-scale factories and supermarkets in FY 2005. When this happens, liberalized sources will account for about 60 percent of Japan's electricity supply.

The Advisory Committee on Energy and Natural Resources will use the Federation's estimates to draw up figures relating to the costs and profitability of nuclear power generation, and will likely initiate a debate on a "division of labor" between the government and the electric power companies.

Posted: 2004/01/07 10:26:13 PM
Japanese version