The Republic of (South) Korea’s (ROK’s) new administration (inaugurated in May) has announced a new energy policy which re-emphasises the importance of nuclear energy for the country, World Nuclear News has reported. New President Yoon Suk-yeol had promised to reverse the nuclear phase-out policy of his predecessor, President Moon Jae-in, which had been adopted on the latter’s inauguration in 2017, as a reaction to the Fukushima Daiichi crisis in Japan in 2011.
The new policy aimed to ensure that nuclear power provided at least 30% of the country’s energy mix. The target date for achieving this was 2030. This would be achieved by completing nuclear power plants (NPPs) now under construction, and safely extending the lives of existing NPPs.
The new policy included the resumption of work on Unit 3 and Unit 4 of the Shin Hanul NPP. These were planned to be South Korean-designed and built APR1400 reactors, but work on these two units was suspended at an early stage in May 2017 because of the uncertainty caused by the policy of then President Moon. The APR1400 has a generating capacity of 1 400 MWe and the first two examples, Shin Kori Unit 3 and Unit 4, started operating in late 2016 and 2019, respectively. Shin Hanul Unit 1 and Unit 2 were also APR1400s, and Unit 1 started operating in May. The Barakah NPP in the United Arab Emirates has four APR1400s, of which Unit 1 started operating in mid-2019 and Unit 2 in September last year.
“Amid the global push for carbon neutrality and the escalation of the Russia-Ukraine conflict and global energy supply chain uncertainties, energy security and attaining carbon neutrality goals are now more critical than ever,” explained the ROK Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy in a statement. “In response to these changes, it is imperative that new energy policy goals and directions are set so as to better accomplish carbon neutral government projects and the expansion of nuclear power.”
Further, the new ROK government sought to increase the country’s exports in the nuclear, and indeed other new energy, sectors. With the success of the Barakah project, President Yoon has set a target of the country winning ten export NPP projects by 2030. In addition, a South Korean small modular nuclear reactor would be developed.