Japan Atomic Energy Co said on Wednesday it reached an agreement to conduct a feasibility study to build Vietnam’s first nuclear power plant, marking a step in Japan’s efforts to export its nuclear technology to the Southeast Asian country.
Last October, Vietnam chose to partner with Japan in the construction of two nuclear reactors in central Vietnam. It also plans to build two more in the same region, using Russian technology, aiming for operations of all four reactors in the early 2020s.
Japan Atomic Energy said that it took more time than expected to reach a deal but that it had nothing to do with the disaster at Tokyo Electric’s Fukushima nuclear plant after the earthquake and tsunami in March.
The radiation crisis heightened safety concerns in Japan, the world’s third-biggest nuclear power generator, and kept several reactors shut for regular maintenance from restarting.
Still, the government decided this month that Japan should keep exporting nuclear technology while ensuring that its safety is among the highest levels in the world.
Japan’s trade and energy minister, Yukio Edano, is scheduled to meet his Lithuanian counterpart on Wednesday as negotiations are under way for the EU member state to build a nuclear plant.
Edano is expected to exchange views on nuclear technology given that Lithuania has picked Hitachi and a combined Hitachi-U.S. General Electric company to continue talks on building a new nuclear power plant, a ministry official said.
Japan Atomic, a power wholesaler which runs three nuclear reactors in central Japan, said the cost of its feasibility study in Vietnam of 2 billion yen ($26 million) would be fully covered by government subsidies.
It is required to report the results of its study on environment to Energy of Vietnam group (EVN) by March 2013, including its assessment on tsunamis, and the feasibility of the construction plan.
“It took about six months more than we had expected. But that was due to Vietnam’s prolonged administrative process. It had nothing to do with the March disaster,” Youichi Nonaka, Japan Atomic’s managing director, said at a news conference.