Korean conglomerate to cooperate with TerraPower

17 May 2022

South Korea's SK Group has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with TerraPower of the USA to jointly develop "next-generational technologies" needed for small modular reactors (SMRs).

From left to right, SK Inc Vice Chairman Jang Dong-hyun, TerraPower CEO Chris Levesque and SK Innovation President Kim Jun following the signing of the MoU (Image: SK Group)

The MoU was signed on 17 May in Seoul by SK Inc Vice Chairman Jang Dong-hyun, SK Innovation Vice Chairman Kim Jun and TerraPower CEO Chris Levesque.

SK said the cooperation between TerraPower and group member companies SK Corporation and SK Innovation will "contribute to fostering the next-generation nuclear power plant industry in Korea through cooperation in securing and commercialising core SMR technology ... it is expected to contribute to not only securing new technologies related to nuclear power plants, but also enhancing the vitality of the entire nuclear power plant industry ecosystem."

SK Group - the second-largest chaebol in South Korea, composed of 186 subsidiary companies - has pledged to cut 35% of carbon emissions by 2030 from the level of 2020, or 200 million tonnes of carbon, and 85% of emissions by 2040. The company said it has been "continuously reviewing business opportunities in related areas since last year after its affiliates decided to promote net-zero to overcome the climate crisis." It said it has been "paying attention to the competitiveness of SMRs as a 'safe power source without carbon emission'. Through this MoU, SK's long-standing will and review for carbon reduction is expected to lead to various business cooperation with TerraPower."

TerraPower - established in 2008 by Microsoft founder Bill Gates - has been selected by US Department of Energy to receive cost-shared funding through the Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program to test, licence and build an advanced reactor within the next seven years.

The company has selected Kemmerer in Wyoming as the preferred site for the Natrium nuclear power plant demonstration project, which will feature a 345 MWe sodium-cooled fast reactor with a molten salt-based energy storage system. The storage technology can temporarily boost the system's output to 500 MWe when needed, enabling the plant to follow daily electric load changes and integrate seamlessly with fluctuating renewable resources.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News