South Korea to launch construction program for new nuclear power units

July 10, 2023 – South Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) said the government is evaluating the feasibility of new nuclear power projects in order to meet the growing demand for electricity and to meet carbon emission reduction targets.MOTIE will start working on South Korea’s long-term power supply plan from this month, but did not disclose any further details of the plan for the construction of new nuclear power units.

Since 2011, Korea Hydroelectric & Nuclear Power (KHNP) has been planning to start construction of two 1,500 MWe-class nuclear units, units 1 and 2 of the Cheonji Nuclear Power Plant, by December 2027 in Yingde-gun on South Korea’s east coast. For this purpose, the company had completed the acquisition of about 20% of the land at the plant site in 2017. However, the project was canceled due to the previous government’s nuclear abandonment policy, along with the Shin Hanul Unit 3 and 4 project (APR1400).

In February 2021, the South Korean government allowed a two-year extension of the construction license for Shin Hanul 3 and 4 until December 2023 in the face of domestic opposition and concerns about potential power shortages. This provided an opportunity for the current administration to restart the project.

In January 2023, KHNP was allowed to start preliminary work on the construction project for New Horna Units 3 and 4. In December 2022, the long-delayed New Horna Unit 1 was commissioned, the first new nuclear unit to be commissioned in South Korea since August 2019. New Horna Unit 2 is scheduled for September 2023 commissioning.

KHNP is also accelerating the Saar Nuclear Power Plant (Saeul) Units 3 and 4 construction project (i.e., the Shin Kori Units 4 and 5 project.) Saar Units 3 and 4 are proposed to be commissioned in October 2024 and October 2025, respectively, KHNP revealed. As of the end of March 2023, the two-unit construction project was 86.9% complete.

According to the 2022~2036 power plan announced by the South Korean government, the installed nuclear power capacity will increase to 31.7 GWe by 2036.In addition to the domestic construction of new nuclear power units, South Korea has set targets to develop small reactors and export 10 nuclear power units by 2030.

Korea currently has 24 nuclear power units in operation, totaling 24.65 GWe, and nuclear power accounts for about 30% of the country’s installed power mix.

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