Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) has announced plans to develop a new Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR) that, the company suggests, will half generation costs. The company plans to invest some ¥300 billion ($2.85 billion) to develop the next phase of ABWR that will reduce generation costs to an estimated ¥5/kWh, compared to the ¥9/kWh currently obtainable. Tepco intends to begin commercial operations at the plant, which is set to have a capacity in the region of 1.7 GWe, within the next 10 or 15 years.

Elsewhere in the resource-starved country, Royal Dutch / Shell intends to develop gas-fired power resources through the creation of a new business unit, Shell Gas & Power Japan. The new company intends to develop power generation and supply opportunities with liquified natural gas. The Shell move is one of a number of recent domestic and foreign entries that hope to exploit the liberalising electricty market. Among them is a new venture between the NTT telecoms giant and the gas companies of Tokyo and Osaka. The venture, Ennet Corp, will be 40 per cent held by NTT and the remainder split evenly between the two gas interests. Ennet will face competition from other new power entrants like Enron’s Epower and Mitsubishi Corp in this increasingly competitive market.