Fuel loading under way at Korean APR-1400

14 July 2021

Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP) has today begun loading fuel assemblies into the core of unit 1 at its Shin Hanul nuclear power plant, days after being granted an operating licence for the reactor. The unit - the first of two APR-1400 reactors at the site - is scheduled to enter commercial operation in March 2022 following tests at various power levels to ensure that all systems operate safely as designed.

A ceremony was held to mark the start of fuel loading at Shin Hanul 1 (Image: KHNP)

South Korea's Nuclear Safety and Security Committee on 9 July gave its conditional approval for the start-up of the reactor.

KHNP today announced it had started loading the first of the 241 fuel assemblies into the core of Shin Hanul 1 ahead of its start-up.

Following pre-operation inspections by regulatory agencies, the reactor will undergo a test run lasting about eight months. "During the trial run, Shin Hanul unit 1 will conduct various tests to check the operation of essential equipment under normal operating temperature and pressure conditions," KHNP said.

Ground breaking for the first two units at the Shin Hanul (formerly Shin Ulchin) site took place in May 2012. First concrete for unit 1 was poured two months later, with that for unit 2 following in June 2013. The 1350 MWe pressurised water reactors were originally expected to enter service in April 2017 and April 2018, respectively. Following delays, fuel loading in unit 1 had been scheduled for June 2019 but was delayed pending safety checks by the NSSC and some modifications. Commercial operation of unit 1 was then expected in July 2021, and unit 2 in May 2022, but there have been further delays.

The APR-1400 is an evolutionary pressurised water reactor with its origins in the CE System 80+ model. Principally designed by Korea Engineering Company, it produces 1400 MWe and has a 60-year design life. It supersedes the standardised 995 MWe OPR-1000 design, of which South Korea built 12. The APR-1400 features improvements in operation, safety, maintenance and affordability based on accumulated experience as well as technological development.

In October 2017, European Utility Requirements - a technical advisory group for European utilities on nuclear power plants - approved the APR1400 reactor design. The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission certified the APR-1400 in August 2019, finding the design fully meets US safety requirements.

The first two APR-1400 units - Shin Kori 3 and 4 - entered commercial operation in December 2016 and September 2019, respectively. Construction of two further APR-1400s as Shin Kori units 5 and 6 began in April 2017 and September 2018. These are scheduled to be commissioned in March 2023 and June 2024.

KHNP noted Shin Hanul unit 1 is the first power reactor in South Korea to achieve technological independence through localisation of core facilities such as the reactor coolant pump and the plant instrumentation and control system.

Four APR-1400s have also been built at Barakah in the United Arab Emirates. The first of these units started commercial operation in April and unit 2 has completed fuel loading and is being prepared for start-up.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News