Three Japanese corporations have confirmed the construction of one of the world’s largest hydrogen power plants, which will be built in Fukushima Prefecture on land that includes the site of a previously planned nuclear power plant.
Toshiba Corp., Tohoku Electric Power Co. and Iwatani Corp. will join forces for the 10,000-kilowatt-class facility in the Tanashio and Ukedo districts of Namie Town — one of the municipalities that was worst-hit by the March 2011 nuclear accident at the nearby Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant.
The companies aim to further expand the use of renewable energy in Japan’s energy mix in order to balance supply and demand that has been distabilised since the nuclear accident, which saw multiple reactor meltdowns and explosions and forced the evacuation of 160,000 residents and the closure of the nation’s 54 nuclear reactors, which had previously generated around one-third of Japan’s electricity.
Following the 2011 nuclear accident the Fukushima government said it would end its dependence on nuclear energy and the H2 plant is part of a governmental new energy program, called the “Fukushima New Energy-Oriented Society Scheme,” which is designed to make Fukushima Prefecture a major supplier of H2 gas and other new energies. Dozens of solar farms as well as other new energy projects have already been established in the prefecture.
Construction of the 169-hectare hydrogen plant will start in 2018 with a portion of that built on a site once proposed for the now scrapped Namie-Odaka nuclear power station.
That site lies on land that fell within an evacuation zone that was ordered following the 2011 nuclear accident, but that order has recently been lifted. According to one local report, Tohoku Electric Power Co., the utility that had planned the a Namie-Odaka nuclear plant, will transfer ownership of the land to the Namie Town without charge.
According to the Fukushima Minpo newspaper, while priority will be given to the construction of a hydrogen production plant that will primarily supply energy to the Tokyo metropolitan area, plans are also under consideration for the development of solar and other renewable energy facilities to generate electricity for hydrogen production as well.
The aim is to have the facility supplying power to the grid before the opening of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic games.
At a Fukushima reconstruction promotion headquarters meeting, Fukushima Governor Masao Uchibori said that hydrogen manufactured at the plant “will be used at the Olympics and Paralympics, showing at home and abroad that reconstruction has progressed in Fukushima.”
The Namie-Odaka plant was first proposed in 1968 on a site about 15 km north of the stricken Fukushima No. 1 plant. Construction of the 825 MWe boiling water reactor had been slated to commence this year, with energy production to start in 2023.
However, in 2013 Tohoku Electric announced in that it had ended plans for the plant due to local opposition that had placed the project in "a very difficult situation" and that it was "not appropriate to continue to promote the location as it is." Both Namie and neighbouring Minamisoma, under whose jurisdiction part of the proposed plant would have fallen, demanded the plant project be scrapped.
The company has also planned the expansion of its Higashi-dori nuclear power plant further north in Aomori though at present that site, and another in Onagawa, Miyagi Prefecture that withstood the 2011 disasters, remain offline.