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Energy demand in developing countries is expected to increase rapidly and growth in the consumption of fossil fuels is anticipated. Therefore, achieving reduced CO2 emissions--while maintaining a stable energy supply--is a social challenge requiring a worldwide solution. There is international consensus that CO2 emission levels need to be halved by 2050 if we are to limit global warming. That will require securing a stable energy supply while developing and innovating power generation methods technologies that greatly reduce CO2 emissions.
Changes in the Global Electric Power Supply Mix and CO2 Emission Volumes
Figures below have been rounded to whole numbers.
Source: Estimates of the International Energy Agency's (IEA) Energy Technology Perspectives 2008. Some data also obtained from Hitachi Research Institute estimates.
*Figures in parentheses indicate amounts emitted by power generation
CO2 Emission Volumes by Main Power Generation Methods
Figures include CO2 emissions not only from powergenerating fuel combustion but from all the energy consumed in the electric power supply process- from the mining of raw materials to the construction of power generation plants, fuel transportation, operation, repairs and maintenance.
The nuclear power figure includes domestic reprocessing of spent fuel currently being planned, "pluthermal" use (assuming plutonium is recycled once), and highly radioactive waste disposal.
Source: Based on Research Report Y99009 and Research Report Y01006 (August 2001, Central Research Institute of Electric Power Industry).
Current Group projects include cutting-edge nuclear power generation plants, more efficient coal-fired power generation, power systems using sources such as solar and wind power, grid connection control and battery storage technologies, as well as smart grids.*1 We are also conducting joint R&D with research institutes, universities and other companies on technologies for the future, including IGCC,*2 a promising candidate for next-generation high-efficiency power generation; CCS,*3 which isolates and recovers the CO2 emitted from sources such as thermal power plants for storage underground and elsewhere; and next-generation nuclear power plants with more effective resource use.
Top:High-efficiency 600°C-class high-pressure turbine for thermal power generation.
bottom:2,000 kW wind power generator developed jointly with Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd.
|CO2 emission reduction||Renewable energy power generation systems
Grid connection control
|High efficiency/effective use of resources||Advanced boiling water reactors
High-efficiency coal-fired power generation
Research Institute of Innovative Technology for the Earth
The keys to halving CO2 emissions by 2050 are innovations and improvements in the supply of energy, which accounts for around 40 percent of CO2 emissions and where demand will keep growing. While the base will be stable nuclear power plant operations, there are many areas where we can contribute, including improving the nuclear fuel cycle, using IGCC in particular to improve coal-fired power generation efficiency, and by creating battery technologies--vital in expanding renewable energy use. I strongly expect Hitachi to become even more involved in creating both a low-carbon society and greater power supply stability by developing practical, concrete, and innovative technologies from a long-term perspective.
Nuclear power generation is currently undergoing a renaissance. This is due partly to the wide distribution of uranium--used for fuel--across politically secure regions and its potential contribution to energy supply stabilization, as well as the fact that no CO2 is emitted. Even in the United States, where no new nuclear power plant has been built since 1973, plans are currently under consideration to build more than 30 new nuclear power plants. Nuclear power generation is expected to play a major role in reducing CO2 emissions in the years ahead.
Since putting the Tsuruga-1 nuclear power plant into operation in 1970, we have participated in the construction of 20 nuclear power plants in Japan, amassing technological know-how while maintaining and fostering expert human resources. In July 2007, Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy was established as a nuclear power joint venture between Hitachi and General Electric, a company with extensive construction experience in the United States. This strategic move positions us in the North American market with the technical capabilities and human resources that we have nurtured to respond to the expected boom in nuclear power generation.
A key feature of our nuclear power business is that we handle the entire process from plant design through to manufacture, installation and pre-operation by having many Hitachi Group companies work in collaboration. We are striving to improve quality control by building a comprehensive engineering database for centralized information management--from the drawings produced by our 3D CAD system to manufacturing plans and installation plans to progress monitoring during construction.
We also attach ultra-small RFID (radio-frequency identification) chips called μ-chips to pipes and cables shipped to construction sites, enabling detailed product and process management at new nuclear power plants.
Our interest in enhancing manufacturing and installation efficiency has led to putting aside the traditional approach of installing machinery and laying pipes on-site during construction. Instead, we have created a proprietary large-block modular construction method where plant components, such as machinery and pipes, are assembled off-site and finished modules are then shipped to the construction site. Using this method for nuclear power plant construction makes it easy to build according to plan; it also ensures top-level quality and security control. Large-block modular construction will have a major impact on power plant construction in North America, as well as other regions.
Top:Module assembly factory (Hitachi Works, Hitachi GE Nuclear Energy)
Bottom:Nuclear reactor containment vessel being lifted into Unit No. 3 at Chugoku Electric Power Company's Shimane Nuclear Power Station in Japan
As a builder of power plants, we have constructed many boiling water reactors (BWRs), the most common type of nuclear power plant in Japan. Since 1995, we have also been building advanced boiling water reactors (ABWRs) which offer high reliability. Moreover, we are working with the Japanese government, electric power companies and other manufacturers on a national project to develop the next generation of light water reactors. These new reactors are intended to take advantage of the replacement reactor construction demand that will emerge around 2030, with an eye on the international market as well.
The reserves to production ratio for uranium is said to be around 85 years. To improve uranium use efficiency, we have been deeply involved in building a nuclear fuel reprocessing plant and in a government-led fast reactor development program.
(Published in July 2009)
Presenting Hitachi's activities aimed at monozukuri in harmony with the environment, such as environmentally conscious products, eco-examples at offices and plants, and employees' activities.