Korean reactor starts supplying electricity

10 June 2022

Unit 1 of the Shin Hanul nuclear power plant in South Korea was connected to the electricity grid for the first time on 9 June, Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP) announced. The unit - the first of two APR-1400 reactors at the site - is scheduled to enter commercial operation later this year.

Shin Hanul units 1 (left) and 2 (Image: KHNP)

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 postponed pending safety checks by the Nuclear Safety and Security Committee (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.

On 9 July 2021, the NSSC gave its conditional approval for the start-up of Shin Hanul 1. KHNP began loading the first of the fuel assemblies into the core of the reactor five days later. KHNP announced on 13 October that, following the completion of fuel loading, it was conducting reactor physics and systems testing under normal operating temperature and pressure conditions. In July, the company said these tests were expected to take about eight months to complete. The reactor achieved first criticality - a sustained chain reaction - on 22 May.

KHNP said it expects Shin Hanul 1 to generate "about 700,000 kWh of electricity per hour during the output increase test period after connection to the grid, which is expected to contribute to electricity supply and demand in the upcoming summer".

KHNP President Jeong Jae-hoon said: "We will do our best for a comprehensive final inspection while increasing the power plant output step by step."

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.

Four APR-1400s have also been built at Barakah in the United Arab Emirates, the first export order for the reactor design. The first two of these units were connected to the grid in August 2020 and September 2021, respectively.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News