HL Deb 26 June 1995 vol 565 cc40-1WA
Viscount Hanworth

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What progress has been made in the fast reactor programmes in Japan, France and Russia; and whether the technology now exists to construct a safe 1,000 megawatt or larger generator.

Earl Ferrers

Fast reactor development continues steadily in Japan with the continued operation of their experimental reactor, JOYO, and the commissioning of the prototype reactor, MONJU (280 megawatts electrical (MWe)). Start-up tests are under way at MONJU and it is planned to generate electricity later this year.

In France, PHENIX (250 MWe) has successfully completed Run 49 and is now in a maintenance shut-down phase. The SUPER PHENIX (1200 MWe) demonstration reactor is preparing for re-start shortly.

The Russian Fast Reactor Programme also continues with the operation of three demonstration reactors ranging in size from the 12 MWe BOR-60 to the 600 MWe BN-600. It is understood that state approval has recently been given to go ahead with plans to construct an 800 MWe demonstration reactor (BN-800) in the South Urals.

Since 1988, the European Fast Reactor collaborative projects has pooled the resources of the various national interests within Europe with the objective of designing a reactor with an output of 1440 MWe which is safe, robust in design and satisfies both economic and strategic requirements. This collaboration has resulted in a highly developed design which meets current licensing requirements. With current national energy policies, however, it is unlikely that any decision on a demonstration fast reactor will be made in Western Europe before 2005–2010 at the earliest. Meanwhile, strong links are being maintained between European, Japanese and Russian reactor operators to ensure that experience is shared.