South Korea plans SMR industrial complex

20 June 2024

President Yoon Suk Yeol has announced plans to create a small modular reactor (SMR) industrial hub in the city of Gyeongju in the southeastern corner of South Korea's North Gyeongsang Province. The government also aims to establish a hub for the hydrogen industry in the province.

Yoon addressing the people's livelihood debate forum (Image: Presidential Office)

Speaking at the 26th people's livelihood debate meeting, held at Yeungnam University's Gyeongsan Campus, Yoon described the city as "the high-tech manufacturing innovation hub of Northeast Asia". He added: "Based on the potential that led to the country's modernisation, the central government will provide active support so that Gyeongbuk can take a greater leap forward and open a successful regional era.

"For Gyeongbuk to take a leap forward, innovation in industrial structure is more important than anything else. Gyeongbuk previously led South Korea's exports through its steel and textile industries. Currently, we are discovering and promoting new growth engines, such as hydrogen and bio. The government will firmly support Gyeongbuk’s industrial innovation."

Yoon announced the government will support the creation of an SMR national industrial complex worth KRW300 billion (USD216 million) in Gyeongju "so that we can preemptively secure the small module reactor and SMR manufacturing technology that is being competitively developed around the world".

He said the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy will create a fund worth KRW80 billion by next year to support the growth of the country's nuclear power sector.

"We will actively support the construction of infrastructure, including technology development and prototype production, so that Gyeongbuk can clearly grow its SMR manufacturing capabilities and grow into a global SMR manufacturing hub," Yoon stated.

He also confirmed that construction of units 3 and 4 of the Shin Hanul nuclear power plant in North Gyeongsang Province will "proceed without a hitch so that Gyeongbuk can play a leading role in restoring the nuclear power industry ecosystem and new industrialisation". Design work for the two APR1400 reactors was suspended in 2017 due to uncertainties about government policy on the construction of new reactors.

In addition, the president announced plans to "grow Gyeongbuk into a hub for the hydrogen industry by supporting the creation of an east coast hydrogen economy industrial belt worth approximately KRW800 billion, connecting Pohang and Uljin". He noted that a hydrogen fuel cell cluster is currently being built in the Pohang Blue Valley National Industrial Complex, where about 30 fuel cell companies are gathering to promote the local production of hydrogen fuel cells.

Yoon also noted that construction of the KRW400 billion (USD300 million) Uljin Nuclear Hydrogen National Industrial Complex in Ulchin began in 2022 as part of South Korea's efforts to promote hydrogen as a future energy source and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. He said the government had decided to exempt the project from preliminary tariffs to "further accelerate the pace of progress in the future".

Researched and written by World Nuclear News