Slovakia and South Korea discuss cooperation on new nuclear

20 May 2024

The Slovak Republic government is aiming to develop details of proposals for a new nuclear power unit at Bohunice by October - with South Korea, as well as the USA and France, among potential partners.

Bohunice has two units in commercial operation (Image: Slovenske elektrarne)

The Slovak Republic's government officially approved the plans for a new 1.2 GWe unit, near the existing Bohunice nuclear power plant, last week. The government asked the economy ministry to draw up details of the plan by the end of October. The government meeting and the decision took place last Wednesday, before Prime Minister Robert Fico was targeted in an assassination attempt. He is described as in a serious but stable condition and recovering in hospital.

Slovak Republic Foreign Minister Juraj Blanár was on a visit to South Korea last week, and held talks with his South Korean counterpart Cho Tae-yul about expanding their bilateral cooperation to the status of strategic partnership.

The Slovak Republic's official TASR news agency reported Blanár as saying: "We also talked with our South Korean partner about the use of nuclear energy, in which Slovakia and South Korea see great potential. The Republic of Korea has extensive experience in the planning, construction and operation of nuclear power plants, so we welcome further discussion and consultations with the South Korean side."

It added that the minister said that South Korea could be a potential partner in the construction of the new nuclear block, and that there was also discussion about small modular reactors, which Slovakia is considering.

Slovakia currently has five nuclear reactors - three at Mochovce and two at Bohunice - generating half of its electricity, and it has one more at Mochovce under construction. Both plants are operated by Slovenske Elektrarne.

In February last year Jadrová Energetická Spoločnosť Slovenska (JESS) submitted a request to the Slovak Nuclear Regulatory Authority (ÚJD) for a siting permit for a new nuclear power plant near the existing Bohunice plant in Jaslovské Bohunice, a small village in the west of the Slovak Republic. JESS - a joint venture between Slovak state-owned radioactive waste management company JAVYS (51%) and Czech utility ČEZ (49%) - was formed in December 2009 to build and operate a new nuclear power plant at Bohunice.

JESS is responsible for the preparation of the New Nuclear Resource Project (NJZ) and, "as part of the activities of the pre-preparation stage and in accordance with the approved Business Plan for the NJZ Project for the period 2022-2025, processed the necessary documentation for the written application for a permit for the location of a nuclear facility". At the time of submitting the siting permit application JESS said it planned to apply for a construction licence for the plant at the end of 2025 with construction work scheduled to start in 2031.

JAVYS signed a framework cooperation agreement with France's EDF in August last year and a memorandum of understanding with the USA's Westinghouse the previous month, both relating to potential projects involving large scale units and small modular reactors. Associated Press reported last week that the Slovak Republic's economy minister Denisa Sakova had said there would be a tender to pick the supplier of the new unit, with Russia's Rosatom not allowed to compete.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News