Japanese Company Might Invest ‘Billions’ In US Nuclear Power

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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The Japan-based Toshiba Corporation is pouring billions of dollars into the U.S. nuclear power industry, despite expecting to lose money in the process.

Toshiba is considering formally listing U.S. nuclear companies that it purchased for billions as a net loss, then investing more into other companies.

Toshiba purchased the American nuclear company Westinghouse in 2006 for about $5.4 billion and added another nuclear engineering firm called Chicago Bridge & Iron’s (CB&I) last December for $229 million. Toshiba will turn an estimated profit of $1.2 billion in 2016.

Japan previously pledged to abandon nuclear power by the 2030s. Officials promised to replace nuclear power with wind or solar power, but this caused the price of electricity to rise by 20 percent. Japan’s government aims to restart at least 32 of the 54 reactors it shut down following the Fukushima disaster, and wants nuclear power to account for 20 percent of the nation’s total electricity generated by 2030.

Nuclear power provided 29 percent of Japan’s total electricity before 2011, but will decline to 13.6 percent by 2023 and 1.2 percent by 2040, according to reports. Japan got 24 percent of its electricity from coal in 2010 and the country plans to get more than a third of its power from coal by 2040.

There are 61 commercially operating nuclear power plants with 99 nuclear reactors in the U.S. Combined, these reactors generate about 20 percent of all electricity used last year, according to the U.S government Energy Information Administration.

Japan’s transition to green energy hasn’t gone well, and the country likely won’t meet its goals, according to the report. Japan remains a top importer of oil, coal and natural gas, and the government estimated that importing fuel costs the country more than $40 billion annually.

Japan’s current government sees a revival of nuclear power as critical to supporting economic growth and slowing an exodus of Japanese manufacturing to lower-cost countries, but has faced incredible pushback.

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