Feasibility study for Korean reactors at Borssele

14 December 2023

Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP) has been contracted to conduct a feasibility study into the construction of two Korean-supplied reactors at the Borssele nuclear power plant site in the Netherlands. The contract comes as the South Korean and Dutch governments sign a memorandum of understanding to cooperate on nuclear energy.

President Yoon speaking at the Netherlands-Korea Business Forum (Image: Presidential Office)

In a statement, the Dutch government said KHNP will begin the feasibility study in January. It will consider whether the reactor design complies with Dutch legislation and regulations, whether it can be fitted into the preferred location at Borssele, and will develop a more detailed estimate of the costs and time required to build the two new units. The possible impact on the environment is also highlighted in the studies. The study is expected to last at least six months.

This is the first of three such contracts, the government said, noting that contracts with Westinghouse of the USA and EDF of France "will follow soon".

"These studies are necessary to determine whether it is technically possible and safe to build new nuclear power stations at the preferred location in Borssele," it said. "An independent party will then evaluate the technical feasibility studies. The first results are expected to be shared in the autumn of 2024."

In December 2021, the Netherlands' new coalition government placed nuclear power at the heart of its climate and energy policy. Based on preliminary plans, two new reactors will be completed around 2035 and each will have a capacity of 1000-1650 MWe. The two reactors would provide 9-13% of the Netherlands' electricity production in 2035. The cabinet announced in December 2022 that it currently sees Borssele as the most suitable location for the construction of the new reactors.

"Nuclear energy helps us on our way to a CO2-free energy system. That is why we are busy preparing for the arrival of two new nuclear power stations," said Minister for Climate and Energy Policy Rob Jetten. "The three parties that are eligible for this new construction will carry out technical feasibility studies in the coming year. The South Korean builder KHNP is now the first to start. We have had good discussions with this company and my South Korean colleagues recently. And I am pleased that our French and American colleagues will soon be able to get to work too. An important milestone."

Cooperation agreement

The signing of the contract with KNHP came during a state visit by South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol to the Netherlands. Also during the visit, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on cooperation in nuclear energy was signed between the two governments.

A joint statement from President Yoon and Prime Minister Mark Rutte said: "The two leaders recognised the role nuclear energy can play in enhancing energy security, combatting climate change and reaching carbon neutrality, and agreed to maintain and further develop bilateral cooperation on nuclear energy topics such as construction and operation of nuclear power plants; workforce development; nuclear fuel; safety; and innovation of gigawatt-scale nuclear reactors, small modular reactors and other advanced nuclear reactors."

In a separate statement, Yoon said: "Based on the nuclear power plant cooperation MoU signed today, we will actively support Korean companies with the world's best construction competitiveness to participate in the new nuclear power plant project in the Netherlands."

Researched and written by World Nuclear News