Agreement to bolster Korean nuclear industry

11 August 2022

South Korea's Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP), Doosan Enerbility and nuclear energy equipment and materials manufacturers with the aim of revitalising the country's nuclear industry.

The signing of the MoU (Image: MOTIE)

The MoU was signed on 10 August at a conference in Changwon, South Gyeongsang Province, to discuss business support measures for revitalising the industry ecosystem. The Nuclear Energy Industry Business Conference was presided by Trade, Industry and Energy Minister Lee Chang-yang and was attended by various representatives, including Gyeongsangnam-do Economy Deputy Governor Kim Byung-gyu, KHNP Vice President Choi Nam-woo, Doosan Enerbility Vice President Na Ki-yong and PK Valve CEO Chun Young-chan.

The MoU aims to improve the competitiveness of the nuclear industry ecosystem through shared growth, working together to contribute to carbon neutrality, responding to the energy crisis and stabilisation of power supply. Based on this, the industry plans to closely cooperate to create new jobs, develop joint technologies, exchange manpower and expand exports.

During the conference, Lee outlined policy programmes and directions across five major areas: securing new projects; finance; research and development; creating a nuclear energy cluster; and expanding exports.

For winning new contracts, he said KRW130.6 billion (USD100 million) worth of new projects are to be awarded by the end of 2022. Lee said bids amounting to KRW86.2 billion have already opened, and remaining projects are likely to be confirmed by October.

For financing, funds and special guarantees amounting to KRW100 billion have been available since July for nuclear energy companies, and the evaluation of 60 companies' applications is currently under way.

For R&D, Lee said a KRW670 billion fund will be launched this year by the MOTIE, the Ministry of Science & ICT and KHNP. In addition, KRW21.5 billion worth of R&D funds will be reserved for small and medium-sized companies, applications for which are expected to begin being received this month.

As nuclear energy companies are concentrated in Changwon, Lee said MOTIE is considering designating the area as an Energy Industry Convergence Complex, where R&D benefits, local investment subsidies and tax cuts could stimulate the region's growth. He noted South Gyeongsang Province is currently preparing the application process to establish this.

"We plan to supply KRW1 trillion of orders for power plant related materials for nuclear energy companies in Changwon region," Lee was cited as saying by Korea JoongAng Daily

Next week, a committee of government departments, Korea Electric Power Corporation, financial companies and private sector companies specialising in exporting Korea's nuclear power capabilities will be launched.

MOTIE said it plans to "facilitate close communication with corporations and incorporate their needs into policy programmes".

President Yoon Suk-yeol, who took office in May, vowed to reverse former President Moon Jae-in's policy of phasing out nuclear power, a policy which was brought in after he assumed office in 2017, and followed the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi accident in Japan.

Last month, the South Korean government laid out a new energy policy which aims to maintain nuclear's share of the country's energy mix at a minimum of 30% by 2030. It also calls for the construction of units 3 and 4 at the Shin Hanul nuclear power plant to resume after design work was suspended in 2017 due to uncertainties about government policy on the construction of new reactors.

The new policy also aims to strengthen exports of new energy industries and "capitalise on them as growth engines". It sets the goal of exporting 10 nuclear power plants by 2030, as well as the development of a Korean small modular reactor design.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News