South Korean APR-1400 starts commercial operation

07 December 2022

Unit 1 of the Shin Hanul nuclear power plant has entered commercial operation, Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP) announced. The unit - the first of four APR-1400 reactors at the site - has been in test operation since July.

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

"Commercial operation refers to the start of power generation in earnest after confirming final safety through commissioning tests and receiving approval from the government," KHNP noted.

KHNP CEO Hwang Ju-ho said: "We will operate Shin Hanul unit 1 with safety as our top priority so that we can contribute to electricity supply and demand in winter."

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.

Shin Hanul 1 achieved first criticality - a sustained chain reaction - on 22 May this year and was connected to the grid on 9 June. The 1350 MWe pressurised water reactor entered test operation in July and had been expected to enter commercial operation in September. Unit 2 is scheduled to begin commercial operation in September 2023.

Construction of two further APR-1400s as Shin Kori units 5 and 6 began in April 2017 and September 2018, respectively. These are scheduled to be commissioned in March 2023 and June 2024.

In July, South Korea's government laid out a new energy policy that aims to maintain nuclear's share of the country's energy mix at a minimum of 30% by 2030, reversing former President Moon Jae-in's policy of phasing out nuclear power. It also calls for the construction of units 3 and 4 at the Shin Hanul plant to resume after design work was suspended in 2017 due to uncertainties about government policy on the construction of new reactors.

Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy Lee Chang-yang subsequently set out plans, including the aim for work on Shin Hanul 3 and 4 to resume as early as 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 three of these units were connected to the grid in August 2020, September 2021 and October 2022, respectively.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News