Kazakh, Korean companies to cooperate in nuclear power projects

29 June 2022

Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Kazakhstan Nuclear Power Plants (KNPP) - a branch of the government's Samruk-Kazyna National Welfare Fund - to cooperate on the introduction of nuclear power in Kazakhstan.

The signing of the MoU between KHNP and KNPP (Image: KHNP)

The MoU was signed in Seoul on 28 June during a visit of a Kazakh delegation led by Vice Minister of Energy Zhandos Nurmaganbetov and representatives of the South Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, as well as KHNP. Their trip included a tour of units 5 and 6 of the Shin Kori plant, which are currently under construction.

Through the MoU, the two companies have agreed to cooperate in areas such as the development of new nuclear power plants, the application of nuclear technology, human resource training and public acceptance.

"The signing of this Memorandum will strengthen the strategic partnership between Kazakhstan and South Korea in the field of nuclear energy development," Kazakhstan's energy ministry said.

KNHP noted that it submitted a proposal to Kazakhstan in 2019 for the construction of two 1000 MWe or 1400 MWe nuclear power plants. Since then, the company said it has "maintained a continuous cooperative relationship".

In September last year, Kazakh president Kassym-Jomart Tokayev announced as part of a national address that Samruk-Kazya would begin exploring the use of nuclear energy. He said it would "explore the possibility of developing safe and environmentally friendly nuclear energy in Kazakhstan" and that it would be done "as rationally as possible, without speculation and emotions".

In December, KNPP signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with small modular reactor (SMR) developer NuScale to investigate the deployment of SMRs in Kazakhstan. NuScale said the agreement will see the companies share technical expertise as they "examine the value NuScale's small modular reactor technology could bring to the country." The US company will support KNPP to evaluate its technology, "including nuclear power plant engineering, construction, commissioning, operation and maintenance, and project-specific studies and design work." In 2019, NuScale submitted a 'technical and price offer' to KNPP.

In February this year, Kazkhstan's Energy Director of the Department of Nuclear Energy and Industry said that the government was evaluating six suppliers: NuScale Power; a US-Japanese consortium of GE Hitachi; KHNP; China National Nuclear Corporation; Rosatom; and EDF.

However, Interfax-Kazakhstan reported on 29 June that the Kazakh Energy Ministry has excluded the USA and Japan from the list of potential suppliers of technology for the nuclear power plant project as their proposed reactors have not yet been constructed or operated anywhere elsewhere yet.

KNPP is preparing to submit a proposal for a new nuclear power plant to the president within the third quarter of this year for the construction of two new nuclear power plants with a total capacity of up to 2800 MWe.

Kazakhstan has 12% of the world's uranium resources and is the world's largest producer. A Russian-designed BN-350 sodium-cooled fast reactor operated near Aktau in Kazakhstan for 26 years until 1999, generating electricity and desalinating water. The question of nuclear power in Kazakhstan has been discussed for many years, with both large and small reactors included in various draft energy plans over the last decade.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News