New nuclear in South Korea

31 July 2012

South Korea's nuclear energy program continues apace, with first concrete being poured for unit 1 of the Shin Ulchin plant, while unit 1 at the Shin Wolsong plant has entered commercial operation.

Shin Ulchin 1 first concrete (KHNP)
A ceremony marks the pouring of first concrete at Shin Ulchin (Image: KHNP)

A ceremony was held on 21 July to mark the pouring of first concrete at Shin Ulchin 1, marking the official start of construction of the Korean-designed Advanced Pressurised Reactor-1400 (APR-1400), Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power (KHNP) announced. Groundbreaking for the first two units at the site took place in early May. First concrete for unit 2 is set to follow in about a year.

Government approval for the 7 trillion won ($6.2 billion) project to build Shin Ulchin units 1 and 2 was given in April 2009. Major contracts related to the plant's construction were signed in March 2010, with detailed site studies starting the following month. The reactor ipressure vessel is scheduled to be installed in unit 1 in June 2014. Unit 1 is expected to be completed in April 2017, with unit 2 expected to be finished in April 2018.

South Korea has worked hard to develop an independent nuclear industry since its first three commercial units were built as turnkey projects by Westinghouse and AECL in the late 1970s and early 1980s. From those beginnings, through an extended technology transfer program with Combustion Engineering (which became part of Westinghouse), came the development of the OPR 1000 and then the APR-1400. The Shin Ulchin units are the second pair of APR-1400s to be built - two are already under construction at Shin Kori – but will be the first to be virtually free of intellectual property content from Westinghouse.

Commercial operation

Meanwhile, unit 1 at the Shin Wolsong plant has entered commercial operation, KHNP announced. It comes within days of Shin-Kori 2 starting commercial service.

The Shin Wolsong 1 OPR-1000 unit, construction of which began in November 2007, started up and was connected to the grid in January 2012. The final stages of commissioning tests began on 24 June. A 'performance guarantee test' confirmed that the unit generates its designed output. KHNP subsequently received approval from the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission for the reactor to enter full-scale commercial operation.

Its sister unit, Shin Wolsong 2, is expected to start up next month and enter commercial operation in January 2013.

South Korea now has 23 nuclear power reactors in commercial operation with a combined generating capacity of 20,787 MWe. Nuclear accounts for about one-third of the country's electricity production.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News