Korea, Saudi Arabia progress with SMART collaboration

07 January 2020

A revised pre-project engineering contract has been signed by South Korea's Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT) and Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KA-CARE) to establish a joint entity for the commercialisation and construction of the Korean-designed SMART small modular reactor in Saudi Arabia.

A rendering of a plant based on the SMART reactor design (Image: KAERI)

The ministry said the amendment had been made in response to a request from Saudi Arabia that Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP) participates in the project as the company's experience in the construction and operation of power reactors would reduce risks in the construction of the first SMART unit.

Under the revised pre-project engineering (PPE) contract, before the launch of the joint venture - named SMART EPC - KHNP will lead projects to refine the reactor design, license its use for deployment in Saudi Arabia and develop business models and infrastructure, as well as promote the export of the technology to other countries.

South Korea and Saudi Arabia have also agreed to shorten the review process to accelerate the construction of the Saudi demonstration unit and acquire a standard design approval for SMART for easier exports of the reactor. The revised PPE contract sets out the scope of work to be carried out by KA-CARE, KHNP and Korea Electric Power Corporation to achieve this. It also sets out the allocation of financial resources.

"We will reorganise the project promotion system by clarifying the participation and role of KHNP through the revision of the PPE agreement and the signing of the standard design approval agreement," said MSIT director Choi Won-ho. He said the revision will enhance nuclear cooperation between South Korea and Saudi Arabia and bolster the joint promotion of SMART.

SMART (System-integrated Modular Advanced Reactor) is a 330 MWt pressurised water reactor with integral steam generators and advanced safety features. The unit is designed for electricity generation (up to 100 MWe) as well as thermal applications, such as seawater desalination, with a 60-year design life and three-year refuelling cycle. While the basic design is complete, development had been stalled by the absence of any orders for an initial reference unit. Developed by the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI), SMART received standard design approval from the Korean regulator in mid-2012. KAERI had planned to build a demonstration plant to operate from 2017.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News