Korea relies on nuclear to cope with heat wave

23 July 2018

Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power (KHNP) has decided to restart Hanbit 3 and Hanul 2 in the second and third week of August in order to meet growing demand for electricity as the summer heat wave continues, Korea JoongAng Daily reported today. The units have been offline for maintenance work since the second week of May and are expected to be brought back online by 12 August.

Hanbit nuclear power plant (Image: KHNP)

KHNP also said it will be delaying the maintenance schedule for Hanbit 1 and Hanul 1, which were scheduled to begin maintenance outages on 18 and 29 August. Maintenance work was completed on Hanul 4 last week and it is expected to reach full capacity by tomorrow.

According to the news report, KHNP expects it will be able to provide an additional 5 gigawatt hours of electricity with these five nuclear units online. The government has estimated that power demand this week will reach as much as 88.3 GWh.

"As the heat wave has continued for several days, we expect electricity demand to surge to an all-time record," Paik Un-gyu, minister of trade, industry and energy, said during a visit to a power grid in Tteukseom, Seoul yesterday. "But supplying stable electricity is possible as we have secured power supply as planned and we also have emergency resources."

South Korea has 24 power reactors in operation with a combined generating capacity of 22,505 MWe. Together they provide about one-third of the country's electricity. Two new reactors are currently under construction. The government has pledged to scrap new nuclear programmes and not to extend the operation of existing facilities to decrease the number of reactors to 14 by 2038.

On 21 July, KHNP CEO Chung Jae-hoon toured nuclear power plants in Ulsan, North Gyeongsang where he asked personnel to ensure stable power supply, the report added. Currently 16 out of 24 nuclear reactors are in operation.

KHNP announced last month that unit 1 of the Wolsong nuclear power plant will be retired prior to the expiration of its operating licence in 2022, and that it had also cancelled plans for four new reactors. The move is in line with the government's policy to phase out the use of nuclear energy. Two units had been planned at Cheonji in Yeongdeok County, North Gyeongsang province. Two further units had been planned either at Cheonji or at Daejin in Samcheok, Gangwon province.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News