South Korea seeks to boost reactor exports

13 January 2010

South Korea aims to export 80 nuclear power reactors - worth some $400 billion - by 2030, according to the country's Ministry of Knowledge Economy. This would make South Korea the world's third largest reactor supplier with a 20% share of the global market.


In a report to President Lee Myung-bak, the ministry said, "Nuclear power-related business will be the most profitable market after automobiles, semiconductors and shipbuilding." It added, "We will promote the industry as a major export business."


A 20% share of the reactor market would place South Korea at a similar level to Russia, behind leaders France and the second-placed USA.


The ministry said that South Korea must "customize" export strategies to meet the needs of individual countries, attain full technological self-sufficiency to bolster competitiveness, train more engineers and set up arrangements to ensure a steady supply of fuel, the ministry said. The country plans to become self sufficient in nuclear reactor technology by 2012.


According to Kim Young-hak, vice minister for knowledge economy, a further 400 billion won ($356 million) is to be used to upgrade domestically-designed reactors so they can be more efficient and less costly. He told the Yonhap news agency that the country will train 2800 new nuclear experts by 2011 to meet demand for domestic and overseas construction projects, as well as to boost the number of research and development personnel. The government's plan also includes a set of measures to secure a stable supply of nuclear fuel through investment in overseas extraction projects. South Korea's self-sufficiency in uranium-based fuel currently stands at only 6.7% of demand, but this is to be raised to 25% in 2016 and 50% by 2030.


Kim said that South Korea wants to sign deals to build 10 reactors by 2012. This figure includes the recent order from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to supply four power reactors.


In addition to exporting reactors, South Korea also plans to enter the $78 billion market for the operation, maintenance and repair of reactors. "In particular, there is growing demand for overhauls and life extensions for heavy water reactors," Kim said.


The recent order from the UAE marked South Korea's first reactor export. Four South Korean-developed APR1400 reactors are to be built in a $20 billion order, with Korea Electric Power Company (Kepco) providing the "full scope of works and services". An array of South Korean firms are to take up roles in supply and technical support, notably Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power (KHNP) which will assist in operating the new reactors. The first of the 1400 MWe reactors is to come on line in 2017, with the others following by 2020. No sites have yet been selected.


Researched and written

by World Nuclear News