8 January 2007 - Toshiba has announced plans to independently develop a boiling-water reactor (BWR) for nuclear power plants and market it in Japan and abroad by 2015.
The plan heralds a major shift in Toshiba's nuclear reactor strategy. Japan's second-largest electrical machinery manufacturer is now setting its sights on making nuclear reactors a major business by offering both BWRs and pressurized-water reactors (PWR), the two types that have become the mainstream worldwide.
Toshiba has been developing BWRs with General Electric, but has now decided to strike out on its own now that rival Hitachi has decided to effectively integrate its nuclear reactor business with that of the US giant. Last year Toshiba acquired Westinghouse Electric, the leading maker of PWRs.
With the nuclear reactor business expected to expand further abroad, Toshiba has determined that it will need a proprietary line-up of BWRs along with PWR to increase its presence overseas. Using its own technology, Toshiba will develop a 1.6-million-kilowatt BWR model at its Yokohama design facility.
"We won't face a patent issue with GE," a Toshiba official said. With the help of Westinghouse engineers, Toshiba will seek to obtain design certification from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission by 2015.
Some 150 nuclear reactors are expected to be built worldwide over the next 25 years. Currently, PWRs account for about 70% of the market, compared with 20% for BWRs. But there are plans in the US and elsewhere to construct three to five BWRs a year in 2015 and after.