Nuclear Power Considered
to Be Low-Cost, Greener
The industry sets its sights on exploring foreign markets
Korea, marking the 30th anniversary of inaugurating its first nuclear power unit, is now looking to explore foreign markets by making the most of the experiences and technologies it has accumulated over the past three decades.
Prominent international and Korean nuclear power authorities as well as senior government officials will assemble for an official ceremony and an academic forum at the Grand InterContinental Hotel in Seoul on June 9 to celebrate Korea's 30 years of nuclear power generation.
Among the foreign VIPs on hand at the ceremony and the symposium will be representatives of such international nuclear organizations as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Deputy Director General Yury Sokolov; Institute of Nuclear Power Operations (INPO) Vice President David Farr and World Association of Nuclear Operations (WANO) Tokyo Center Chairman Ichiro Takekuro,; Westinghouse Electric Company Vice President Timothy J. Collier,; AREVA Senior Executive Vice President Remy Autebert,;
AECL President (CANDU Reactor Division) and Chief Operating Officer Kenneth Petrunik,; Borbala Vajda, president of the National Commission for Nuclear Activities Control,; Qian Zhimin, chairman of China Quangdong Nuclear Power Group,; Kucherskiv N. I., president of NMMC of Uzbekistan,; and Moukhatar Dzhakishev, president of Kazatomorow of Kazakhstan.
Thirty years have passed since the domestic power industry put the Kori Nuclear Power Unit into commercial operation on April 29, 1978. The year 2008 also marks the 50th anniversary of Korea's launch of activities related to nuclear power.
Taking a look into the 30-year history of the domestic nuclear power industry, nuclear power has become a prime mover behind the economic strides Korea has made so far. Electricity charges have almost remained unchanged. Figures released by Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co. showed that general prices shot up 199 percent during the 25-year period between 1982 and 2007, whereas electricity prices increased a meager 3.3 percent during the same period.
Nuclear power is the most economical energy source. As of Dec. 31, 2007, nuclear power's unit price was lowest at 35.11 won per kW, followed by bituminous coal (37.7 won), combined cycle (101.46 won) and petroleum (117.41 won).
Nuclear power has brought about tremendous economic benefits to the Korean economy. The domestic nuclear power industry achieved an accumulated power generation of 1.992 trillion kWh, equivalent to 702 million tons of bituminous coal valued at 27 trillion won or 2.94 billion barrels of heavy oil worth 97 trillion won. Enormous investments into the domestic nuclear power industry, particularly during the 1970s, greatly contributed to evolving Korea into the world's 13th largest economy with a per capita national income of more than $20,000.
In the initial stage, Korea operated nuclear power projects on a turnkey basis. Korea is now self-sufficient in the development of nuclear power technology as its efforts to localize systems and components have paid off to a significant degree -- the development of the Korean Standard Nuclear Power Plant, dubbed "OPR-1000"using its own technology, and its upgraded version, APR-1400.
Korea now ranks sixth in the world in terms of facility capacity thanks to its continuous construction and development of nuclear power units. Currently, 20 nuclear units in operation in Korea contribute about 26 percent of the nation's total power generation capacity and account for approximately 36 percent of the nation's power supply.
The nation has the world's top-rated track record: achieving an average of 92.74 percent in capacity factor, higher than the global average of 78.4 percent.
During the 1990s, the domestic nuclear power industry peaked with a power supply portion of 49 percent. However, the industry suffered a setback under the rule of former presidents Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun as they came up with plans to cut down on nuclear power's share of the electricity supply.
Changes for the better are expected as the conservative President Lee Myung-bak government is taking a more favorable attitude toward the construction of nuclear power units. The mid- and long-term nuclear power development plan calls for raising the number of nuclear units from the current 20 to 28 by 2015. Kim Young-shik, director general of the Atomic Energy Bureau at the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, told NewsWorld recently that the new government plans to build more nuclear power units and it would consider increasing the number of units in operation to 38.
The domestic nuclear power industry has performed feats in almost every field of nuclear power including design, materials manufacturing, fuel supply and maintenance.
Kori Unit One has been recently allowed to stay in operation for another 10 years after its 30-year design life expired. Korea has also just begun a project to build a low- and intermediate-level radwaste treatment facility in Gyeongju City, solving a thorny issue that had been delayed by public disputes regarding the safety of the projected facility.
Korea is now striving to develop the Generation IV Nuclear System (Gen.-IV) and pyroprocessing, a technology designed to process spent nuclear fuel.
In the latest feat of the Korean nuclear power industry, Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction has recently succeeded in winning an order to supply the main units of a new-type nuclear power plant in the United States, which is the first such order placed since the States'resumption of projects to build nuclear power units. Doosan signed a 300 million won contract with Westinghouse on May 8 to supply two reactors and four steam generators to what will be both the first new-type nuclear power unit in the United States and the first nuclear power facility to be built in that country after a 30-year hiatus. The projected power plant in Georgia will be a 1,100 MW-class AP1000, a third-generation pressured light water reactor type model developed by Westinghouse, whose safety and economic efficiency has been dramatically improved. The units will be manufactured at Doosan's plant in Changwon and delivered to the work site by March 2014.
The nation is making strenuous efforts to strengthen its presence in the overseas non-nuclear power market in such fields as radioisotope and radiation.
THE DOMESTIC NUCLEAR POWER INDUSTRY HAS A LONG WAY TO GO
KHNP (CEO Kim Jong-shin) launched its nuclear business abroad by providing technological support to the Guangdong Nuclear Power Plant in China in May 1993. In the early stage, its overseas business aimed to meet the government's strategy for globalization and a new trend of opening and privatizing the world power market, and to make full use of Korea's abundant experience and accumulated technologies in the nuclear power industry. KHNP promoted its nuclear projects in China, Turkey, the Philippines and Indonesia in the 1990's and made inroads into Romania and Vietnam beginning in 2000. In the case of Turkey's Akkuyu nuclear project, the KHNP made a bid in a consortium with Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL), but failed to receive an order during the final selection of a successful bidder because the project was delayed indefinitely due to a devastating earthquake in 1997.
With the advent of new business environments in the mid-2000s, the overseas business has emerged as a new growth engine. Due to a growing demand for regulating carbon dioxide emissions against the effects of global warming, a hike in energy prices and resource nationalism, nuclear power is considered a key energy source of the emerging era, bringing about a nuclear renaissance, in which about 150 reactors worth 3,000 trillion won are projected to be built by 2030.
With the prospect of decreasing demand for power in Korea, the KNHP has begun to pay keen attention to overseas projects in order to secure its competitive edge through the continuous development of the nuclear industry and improved technological power and to commercialize the advanced technology accumulated by the domestic nuclear industry.
So far, Korea has been successful in developing, constructing and operating the 1,000MW-class Korean Standard Pressurized Light Water Reactor, dubbed "OPR-1000."With this momentum, Korea has secured more competitive nuclear products than other rival companies abroad by developing the APR1400, a new third generation 1,400MW-class reactor that is designed to withstand magnitude-7 earthquakes along with improved stability and economic efficiency. By constructing and operating the Wolsong nuclear power plant, it has come to hold the technology for designing a nuclear power plant in the 700MW heavy water reactor class, manufacturing materials, constructing plants, performing test runs and operating plants.
Despite Korea's excellent technological power, there is a long way to go before the mass overseas exportation of Korean nuclear power plants. Korea faces ever-worsening conditions for making inroads into overseas market, as other nuclear suppliers worldwide continue to raise their competitiveness through M&As and strategic alliances in preparation for the revival of nuclear power. If countries require technology transfer, Korea has no choice but to ask foreign suppliers to assist with some source technologies. When it comes to core technologies like reactor coolant pumps and measurement & control systems, Korea is still dependent on foreign technologies. Also, the domestic nuclear industry system is separated into design, materials manufacturing, fuel supply and maintenance, in comparison to foreign suppliers of which design, manufacturing and fuel supply are integrated into a unified system. nw
Yonggwang Nuclear Power Complex. Korea has 20 nuclear power units in operation in Korea.
KHNP President & CEO Kim Jong-shin
KHNP CEO Kim Jong-shin, Timothy Collier, president and CEO's special authorized rep./vice president of Customer Relations & Sales-Asia Region at Westinghouse Electric Co., and NewsWorld President-Publisher Elizabeth M. Oh attend the KAIF/KNS Annual Conference , held in Seoul on April 16-18.