Saudi Arabia teams up with Korea on SMART

04 March 2015

At least two South Korean-designed SMART reactors could be built in Saudi Arabia following the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the two countries yesterday. Korea and Saudi Arabia are to jointly promote the reactor in the global market.

Park-Salaman - March 2015 - 460 (MOFA)
Korean president Park meets Saudi's King Salman (Image: Presidential website)

The MOU was signed by the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI) - designer of the SMART (System-integrated Modular Advanced Reactor) - and Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KA-CARE). It was signed in Riyadh following a meeting between South Korean president Park Guen-hye and Saudi's newly-crowned King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud.

Under the agreement, the two countries will conduct a three-year preliminary study to review the feasibility of constructing SMART reactors in Saudi Arabia. The cost of building the first SMART unit in Saudi Arabia is estimated at $1 billion, the agreement states.

The MOU also calls for the two countries to cooperate on the commercialization and promotion of the SMART reactor to third countries.

SMART 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. It received standard design approval from the Korean regulator in mid-2012 and KAERI plans to build a demonstration plant to operate from 2017.

"The agreement is expected to open opportunities for South Korean firms to participate in Saudi Arabia's nuclear reactor project," Park's senior secretary for economic affairs was quoted as saying in the Korea Herald.

Korea and Saudi Arabia signed a cooperation agreement on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy in November 2011. The agreement covers areas including research and development, the design, development and operation of a nuclear power plant and nuclear safety and security issues, as well as laying the legal foundations for the export of nuclear items.

Although Saudi Arabia's nuclear program is in its infancy, the kingdom has plans to construct 16 nuclear power reactors over the next 20 years. A 2010 royal decree identified nuclear power as essential to help meet growing energy demand for both electricity generation and water desalination while reducing reliance on depleting hydrocarbon resources.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News