Nuclear power in South Korea
This article needs to be updated.(February 2018)
The total electrical generation capacity of the nuclear power plants of South Korea is 20.5 GWe from 23 reactors. This is 22% of South Korea's total electrical generation capacity and 29% of total electrical consumption.
Responding to widespread public concerns after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan, the high earthquake risk in South Korea, and a 2013 nuclear scandal involving the use of counterfeit parts, the new government of President Moon Jae-in elected in 2017 has decided to gradually phase out nuclear power. The three reactors currently under construction will be completed, but the government has decided these will be the last built, and as the existing plants close at a 40 years end-of-life they will be replaced with other modes of generation.
In 2012 South Korea had plans for significant expansion of its nuclear power industry, and to increase nuclear's share of generation to 60% by 2035. Eleven more reactors were scheduled to come on stream in the period 2012 to 2021, adding 13.8 GWe in total. However, in 2013 the government submitted a reduced draft plan to parliament for nuclear output of up to 29% of generation capacity by 2035, following several scandals related to falsification of safety documentation. This new plan still involved increasing 2035 nuclear capacity by 7 GWe, to 43 GWe.
Nuclear power research in South Korea is very active with projects involving a variety of advanced reactors, including a small modular reactor, a liquid-metal fast/transmutation reactor, and a high-temperature hydrogen generation design. Fuel production and waste handling technologies have also been developed locally. South Korea is also a member of the ITER nuclear fusion research project.
South Korea is seeking to export its nuclear technology, with a goal of exporting 80 nuclear reactors by 2030. As of 2010[update], South Korean companies have reached agreements to build a research reactor in Jordan, and four APR-1400 reactors in the United Arab Emirates. They are also pursuing opportunities in Turkey and Indonesia, as well as in India and the People's Republic of China. In December 2010, Malaysia expressed interest in procuring South Korea's nuclear reactor technology.
In October 2011, South Korea hosted of a series of events to raise public awareness about nuclear power. The events were coordinated by the Korea Nuclear Energy Promotion Agency (KONEPA) and included the participation of the French Atomic Forum (FAF); the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA); as well as public relations and information experts from countries that generate or plan to generate nuclear power. The East Coast Solidarity for Anti-Nuke Group was formed in January 2012. The group is against nuclear power and against plans for new nuclear power plants in Samcheok and Yeongdeok, and for the closure of existing nuclear reactors in Wolseong and Gori.
In 1962, Korea's first research reactor achieved criticality. Kori Nuclear Power Plant was the first plant in Korea to commence commercial operations in 1978. Since then, 19 more reactors have since been built using a mixture of CANDU (4 reactors) and PWR (16 reactors) technology.
According to the South Korean Ministry for a Knowledge Economy, the APR-1400's fuel costs are 23 percent lower than France-based Areva’s EPR, known to be the most advanced nuclear power plant in the world. The government is also planning development of a new nuclear plant design, which will have 10 percent higher capacity and a safety rating better than the APR-1400. South Korea’s nuclear power plants currently are operating at a rate of 93.4 percent, higher than the comparable U.S. operation rate of 89.9 percent, France's 76.1 percent, and Japan's 59.2 percent. South Korean nuclear plants have repeatedly recorded the lowest rate of emergency shutdowns in the world, a record due in large part to highly standardised design and operating procedures. The APR-1400 is designed, engineered, built and operated to meet the latest international regulatory requirements concerning safety, including those for aircraft impact resistance.
In November 2012 it was discovered that over 5,000 small components used in five reactors at Yeonggwang Nuclear Power Plant had not been properly certified; eight suppliers had faked 60 warranties for the parts. Two reactors were shut down for component replacement, which is likely to cause power shortages in South Korea during the winter. Reuters reported this as South Korea's worst nuclear crisis, highlighting a lack of transparency on nuclear safety and the dual roles of South Korea's nuclear regulators on supervision and promotion. This incident followed the prosecution of five senior engineers for the coverup of a serious loss of power and cooling incident at Kori Nuclear Power Plant, which was subsequently graded at INES level 2.
In 2013, there was a scandal involving the use of counterfeit parts in nuclear plants and faked quality assurance certificates. In June 2013 Kori 2 and Shin Wolsong 1 were shutdown, and Kori 1 and Shin Wolsong 2 ordered to remain offline, until safety-related control cabling with forged safety certificates is replaced. Control cabling in the first APR-1400s under construction had to be replaced delaying construction by up to a year. In October 2013 about 100 people were indicted for falsifying safety documents, including a former chief executive of Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power and a vice-president of Korea Electric Power Corporation.
The Korean Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI) is a government-funded research organization. The Korea Power Engineering Company, Inc.(KOPEC) engages in design, engineering, procurement and construction of nuclear power plants. The Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety (KINS) functions as the nuclear regulatory body of South Korea. The Korea Atomic Intelligence Agency of Children (KAIAC) is dedicated to more research and development of nuclear power plants. It is also an educational organization that teaches children about power plants and nuclear energy.
The anti-nuclear movement in South Korea consists of environmental groups, religious groups, unions, co-ops, and professional associations. In December 2011, protesters demonstrated in Seoul and other areas after the government announced it had picked sites for two new nuclear plants.
The "East Coast Solidarity for Anti-Nuke Group" will ask the government to cancel its plans for new nuclear power plants in Samcheok and Yeongdeok. They will also demand the closure of existing nuclear reactors in Wolseong and Gori, and release of information about them.
In January 2012, 22 South Korean women's groups made a plea for a nuclear free future. The women said they feel an enormous sense of crisis after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in March 2011, which demonstrated the destructive power of radiation in the loss of human lives, environmental pollution, and contamination of food.
Choi Yul, president of the Korea Green Foundation, has said "The March 11 disaster has proven that nuclear power plants are not safe". Choi said antinuclear sentiment is growing in South Korea amid the Fukushima crisis, and there is a chance to reverse the country's nuclear policy in 2012 because South Korea is facing a presidential election. In 2014, a professor of atomic engineering at Seoul National University stated that "The public has totally lost trust in nuclear power".
In 2015, Teddy Cho, a prominent anti-nuclear activist, stated that "nuclear power is only an excuse to develop more nuclear technology. Even if that's not the case, nuclear energy itself has also proven to be very dangerous to the environment." He went on to say that nuclear energy was a terrible thing in our community and must be banished. Another anti-nuclear activist, Paul Kim, agreed to the lines of Cho's reasoning.
South Korea has only four active generating station sites, but each site houses four or more units, and three sites have more reactors planned. Thus Korea's nuclear power production is slightly more centralized than most nuclear power nations. Housing multiple units at each site allows more efficient maintenance and lower costs, but reduces grid efficiencies. Four of the six Wolsong reactors are Canadian-designed CANDU pressurized heavy-water reactors (PHWR).
In 2013, in response to a petition from local fishermen, Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power (KHNP) renamed its Yonggwang plant as the Hanbit plant, and its Ulchin plant in North Gyeongsang province was renamed as the Hanul plant.
In 2014, an agreement was signed to allow construction of two additional APR-1400 reactors at Hanul (as Shin Hanul-3 and -4; construction to start no earlier than 2017) and two units in Yeongdeok County (construction may start by 2022). The proposed site in Yeongdeok would be named Cheonji and would occupy land in the villages of Nomul-ri, Maejeong-ri, and Seok-ri in Yeongdeok-eup. Samcheok had been previously selected as a new site for reactors in 2012, but residents rejected a reactor in a 2015 referendum. The population of Yeongdeok declined from 113,000 in 1974 to 38,000 in 2016, with one-third of residents aged 65 or older; the site for a new nuclear power plant was sought as a way to ensure the continued survival of the county.
Moon Jae-in campaigned in 2017 for president following the impeachment of Park Geun-hye, vowing to not build any new reactors. At the time, five reactors were under construction, three of which were near completion (Shin Kori (SKN)-4; Shin Hanul-1 and -2) and two of which had just started (SKN-5 and -6). After Moon was sworn in, construction was suspended on SKN-5/6 in July 2017 and an independent panel was convened to evaluate continuing construction. After hearing from 471 citizens, the panel recommended that construction resume on SKN-5/6 in October 2017 by approximately a three-fifths majority.
|Plant||Town||Province||Primary Technology||Current Capacity (MWe)||Planned Capacity (MWe)|
|Hanul (formerly Ulchin)||Uljin||Gyeongbuk||PWR||5900||8700|
|Hanbit (formerly Yeonggwang)||Yeonggwang||Jeonnam||PWR||5900||5900|
|Reactor||Type||Rating, MWe||Start of Operations|
|Hanbit-3 (Yeonggwang-3)||System 80||1000||1995|
|Hanbit-4 (Yeonggwang-4)||System 80||1000||1996|
|Shin Kori 1||OPR-1000||1000||2011|
|Shin Kori 2||OPR-1000||1000||2011|
|Shin Wolsong 1||OPR-1000||1000||2012|
|Shin Wolsong 2||OPR-1000||1000||2015|
|Shin Kori 3||APR-1400||1400||2016|
|Shin Kori 4||APR-1400||1400||2018 (Under construction)|
|Shin Hanul 1||APR-1400||1400||2016 (Under construction)|
|Shin Hanul 2||APR-1400||1400||2017 (Under construction)|
|Shin Kori 5||APR-1400||1400||(Planned)|
|Shin Kori 6||APR-1400||1400||(Planned)|
|Shin Hanul 3||APR-1400||1400||2022 (Planned)|
|Shin Hanul 4||APR-1400||1400||2022 (Planned)|
- Aerojet General Nucleonics Model 201 Research Reactor
- HANARO, MAPLE class reactor
- TRIGA General Atomics Mark II (TRIGA-Mark II) Research Reactor
- KSTAR Reactor
- South Korean nuclear research programs
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- Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power, operator of RoK's 4 NPPs
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