Pursuit of Green Growth
through Nuclear Power Industry

The fall season is around the corner after the passage of an extremely sultry summer. To officials of nuclear power units, the summer is not a holiday season for enjoying one's free time, but an extended moment of tension: Officials are on constant alert to ensure a stable supply of electricity and operate units safely and without a hitch.
Atomic energy is an essential energy resource not only for ensuring a stable supply of electricity, but also for overcoming the looming energy crisis. The energy crisis is ever deepening due to global warming, the drying up of fossil fuels and higher crude oil prices. Nuclear power proves to be highly economical and does not emit greenhouse gasses. Accordingly, the United States, Europe, ASEAN countries, China, India as well as the oil producers of the Middle East are paying keen attention to nuclear power.
For us, the public understanding of nuclear power has gone higher than in the past, but negative views still exist mainly due to public misgivings over the safety of nuclear power. However, none of the creations of human beings are 100 percent perfect. Recognizing that the various forms of mass transportation are not 100 percent safe, we still embark on planes, trains and boats. In this aspect, nuclear power is relatively safe in that nuclear power, ranging from design and construction to operation, is managed under a top-rated system with safety being the foremost concern.
As a result, for Korea, which operates 20 units over the past 30 years, no big accidents have occurred. Nuclear power requires several stages of protection layers, so there are no chances of emitting radioactivity outside. In reality, the protection facility surrounding the nuclear reactor is made of a 1.2 meter-thick concrete outside wall containing steel and other metal supports to prevent irradiation.
Korea has gained global recognition for its excellent nuclear unit operation capacity. For example, Korea had 90.3 percent of capacity factor quietly surpassing the global average of 77.8 percent. Its nuclear power safety management is rated the top in the world. Nonetheless, we are not satisfied and invite international experts to make frequent checks, the outcomes of which have always turned out to be excellent.
Now in the neighborhoods of our nuclear units, 6,000 staff members, their families and officials of business partners live without any fear. Who would dare to work for nuclear units unless they trusted in their safety's The staffers never worry over safety. Korea's radiation exposure per unit was 72 percent of the world's average for the past five years, showing Korea's thorough management of its units.
We have built up a more stringent anti-nuclear disaster and safety system than those for floods and other natural disasters. All staff members, armed with theory and technology, are on an around the clock vigil like front-line soldiers. Korea is recognized as the world's best in nuclear power safety management and reliability. The peaceful use of nuclear power is no longer the subject of fears.
Nuclear power is a safe facility for generating electricity, while atomic bombs are made for the explosion of immeasurable power. Nuclear fission is the same theory, but the enrichment of uranium differs. It is like alcohol for industrial use vs. beer -- they contain the same substance, but they differ on their ultimate purpose.
Currently, nuclear units are safer than any other industrial facilities since they are managed thoroughly in all processes ranging from design and construction to operation in accordance with legal standards and procedures with safety being the foremost concern. Field officials from international organizations and the government conduct safety checks doubly or trebly. Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co., Korea's nuclear power provider, invited 40-odd Korean and foreign experts to undergo an integrated safety check-up on a voluntary basis on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of Korea's use of nuclear power. Dr. Tom Mazour of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), one of the inspection teams, said that Korea became the first nuclear power country in the world to voluntarily conduct safety checks into all operating units and their safety levels were the world's best.
Countries from across the world are entering an era in which they desperately compete to secure natural resources. For Korea, which depends on foreign imports for 97 percent of total energy consumption, nuclear power cannot be overlooked in that it is easy for transportation and supply, safe and highly economical. Korea will have to seek the wisdom of many people to raise the portion of nuclear energy and utilize it in order to tide over the current energy crisis and take a step forward.
Countries are turning their attention to nuclear power due to crude oil price hikes, the drying up of fossil fuels and pacts on climate changes. They are shifting their energy paradigm to an energy source that is economical and emits almost no greenhouse gasses. The market for constructing new nuclear units is predicted to be huge in the future, and such a construction boom gives us another chance to create opportunities.
The government recently finalized the national energy master plan, setting energy policies and a future vision for 2030. Fortunately, the new government managed to come up with the plan, which could have not been concluded among the private sector due to conflicts among diverse interest parties. The plan contains the government's strong willingness to shift social structure to a highly efficient, low energy one in order to realize a ow-carbon and green growth'scheme as well as to aggressively cope with rapidly changing global energy market movements and climate change. In particular, it calls for raising the portion of nuclear power facility capacity to 41 percent by 2030.
Korea, which has been continuously building nuclear units and has polished its operation technologies for the past 30 years, now becomes a nuclear powerhouse with the world's top-rated operation technology. Korea developed the high-tech Korean Standard Nuclear Power, OPR1000 and APR1400 (Advanced Power Reactor 1400) with its own technology. The government and the industry are working on the "Nu-tech"scheme to be self-sufficient in acquiring core basic technologies.
The Korean nuclear power industry has grown to a stage of exploring overseas markets by capitalizing on the technology and experience it has accumulated so far. Korea has already succeeded in exporting design technology and technology services to China and the United States. We are dreaming of transforming across-the-board plant exports into a next-generation industrial growth engine. Steadfast nuclear safety and high-rated safety technology are the keys for exporting nuclear power abroad. It's confident that we can manage to export nuclear power plants soon if we gain the public's trust through improved nuclear safety and enhanced technology competitiveness.
In a word, you can say that the future of our economy depends on steps to ensure a stable supply of energy. I bet that the safe operation of nuclear power is the first requisite for acquiring public confidence and the shortcut for raising economic efficiency. We plan to solidify public trust and social consensus over nuclear power by wiping out public misgivings over safety. nw

By Kim Jong-shin
CEO of Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co.

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