Nuclear companies announce agreement to workk together The agreement was signed by Kepco chief executive officer Cheong Seung-il (second left) and Westinghouse chief executive officer Patrick Fragman (second from right). Courtesy Kepco. State utility Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kepco) has agreed with US nuclear company Westinghouse to explore ways to cooperate on international nuclear power generation markets, with South Korea saying it plans to export 10 nuclear power plants by 2030.

Kepco, its subsidiary Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP), which operates the country’s nuclear fleet, and Westinghouse aim to set up a joint working group to draw up detailed plans.

The agreement was signed in Seoul by Kepco chief executive officer Cheong Seung-il and Patrick Fragman, chief executive officer of Westinghouse.

Kepco said the aim is to “develop a cooperative model for joint entry in the overseas large nuclear power plant market and expand cooperation to various other fields”.

Mr Fragman also visited the Shin-Kori nuclear power stations – where four units are in operation and two under construction – to see “the operational and construction capabilities of Korean-style nuclear power plants”, Kepco said.

It follows a meeting last month between South Korea’s president Yoon Suk-yeol and US president Joe Biden which included an agreement to deepen ties in nuclear energy. Mr Yoon and Mr Biden committed to the importance of nuclear energy as a critical source of carbon-free electricity and pledged to accelerate the development and global deployment of advanced reactors and SMRs.

Last week, Westinghouse signed a cooperation agreement with Hyundai Engineering and Construction to jointly participate in “global opportunities” for Westinghouse’s AP1000 plant.

Mr Yoon, who became president last month, is bullish on the need for South Korea to embrace nuclear energy. He has said building nuclear power plants is a global trend and essential to the reduction of carbon and energy security, noting that the EU had recently classified nuclear power as green energy in its sustainable finance taxonomy.

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Former president Moon Jae-in’s policy had been to retire the country’s 24 commercial reactors, which supply about 30% of its electricity generation, and refrain from building new ones.

Last month, Unit 1 of the Shin-Hanul nuclear power reached first criticality and is set to become the 25th commercial nuclear power plant in operation in the east Asian nation. On 10 June, the plant was connected to the grid.

First criticality at Shin-Hanul-1 came days after the South Korean government announced that construction of two more plants at Shin-Hanul could resume in 2025 and an application will be made next year so that Kori-2 can be operated beyond its service life.

Work on Shin-Hanul-3 and Shin-Hanul-4 was halted in 2017 under the nuclear phaseout policy of the previous administration.

Date: Saturday, 11 June 2022
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