Nuclear power in South Korea

Nuclear power in South Korea
Nuclear power in South Korea is located in South Korea
Nuclear plants in South Korea (view)
Red pog.svg Active plants

The total electrical generation capacity of the nuclear power plants of South Korea is 18.5 GWe from 21 reactors. This is 29.5% of South Korea's total electrical generation capacity, but 45% of total electrical consumption. The South Korean nuclear power sector maintains capacity factors of over 95%.

Future plans for nuclear generation are for continued expansion to keep pace with the increasing demand for electricity and it increase nuclear's share of generation to 56%. Eleven more reactors are scheduled to come on stream in the period 2010 to 2021, adding 15.2 GWe in total. Construction is underway as of 2007.

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, 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.[1]

In December 2010, Malaysia expressed interest in procuring South Korea's nuclear reactor technology.[2]

Despite the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident, South Korea remains a strong supporter of nuclear power. In October 2011, South Korea reconfirmed its position as a strong supporter of nuclear power with the hosting of a series of events to raise public awareness. The events were coordinated 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 utilize or plan to utilize nuclear power. [3]



Minae Kwon of KIS joined the International Atomic Energy Agency in 1957 and made immediate efforts to benefit from nuclear power, since fossil fuel resources available in the country are very limited. In 1962, Korea's first research reactor achieved criticality.

Commercial-scale power generation started at the Kori-1 plant in 1978, and a further 19 reactors have since been built using a mixture of CANDU (4 reactors) and PWR (16 reactors) technology.

The first generation of nuclear plants in South Korea was built almost entirely by foreign contractors. Since then, the domestic industry has advanced significantly. A Korean Standardized Nuclear Plant (KSNP) has been developed together with local manufacturing expertise. The KSNP design is somewhat derivative of Combustion Engineering (now Westinghouse Electric Company) reactors; a legacy of past joint venture work. Since 1995 nuclear plants in South Korea have been built using 95% or more indigenous technology.[4] Korea plans to become fully self-sufficient in terms of nuclear technology by 2012.[4] Korea was the first country to open a nuclear safety school.[5]

In early 2010, South Korea won its first export order; four APR-1400 reactors for the United Arab Emirates. The chief of the United Arab Emirates' energy corporation said, "We were impressed with the KEPCO (Korea Electric Power Corp) team's world-class safety performance and its demonstrated ability to meet the UAE's program goals."[6] Today, South Korea has some of the world’s most efficient and cutting-edge nuclear power plant designs.[4] The APR-1400 has a 40 percent higher capacity than the previous model and many new safety features. 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.[4] 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.[4] 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.[4] 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.[7] The APR-1400 is designed, engineered, built and operated to meet the latest international regulatory requirements concerning safety, including those for aircraft impact resistance.[7]

South Korea has also developed KSTAR (a.k.a Korea Superconducting Tokamak Advanced Research), an advanced superconducting tokamak fusion research device.[8][9]

Nuclear related organizations

Korea Electric Power (KEPCO) was the sole electric power utility from 1961 to 2001. After KEPCO was split into multiple companies, Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power inherited the nuclear business. Doosan is a critical heavy industry company that has won contracts to supply reactor vessels, steam generators, and integrated head packages for the four AP1000 plants to be built in the People's Republic of China. Korea Heavy Industries and Construction has also had a history of supplying components for nuclear power plants and has recently been designated by the government for the manufacture of nuclear power plants and components.

The Korean Atomic 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.

Reactor overview

South Korea has a relatively small number of nuclear generating stations, only four, but each station 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. Some of the Wolsong reactors are Pressurized Heavy Water (PHWR) reactors with designs based on Canadian CANDU technology.

Breakdown by site
Plant Town Province Primary Technology Current Capacity Planned Capacity
Kori Gijang Busan PWR 4137 7937
Ulchin Uljin Gyeongbuk PWR 5900 8700
Wolsong Gyeongju Gyeongbuk PHWR/PWR 2779 4779
Yeonggwang Yeonggwang Jeonnam PWR 5900 5900
Breakdown by Reactor
Reactor Type Rating, MWe Start of Operations
Kori-1 PWR 587 1978
Kori-2 PWR 650 1983
Kori-3 PWR 950 1985
Kori-4 PWR 950 1986
Ulchin-1 PWR 950 1988
Ulchin-2 PWR 950 1989
Ulchin-3 KSNP 1000 1998
Ulchin-4 KSNP 1000 1999
Ulchin-5 KSNP 1000 2004
Ulchin-6 KSNP 1000 2005
Wolsong-1 CANDU 679 1983
Wolsong-2 CANDU 700 1997
Wolsong-3 CANDU 700 1998
Wolsong-4 CANDU 700 1999
Yeonggwang-1 PWR 950 1986
Yeonggwang-2 PWR 950 1987
Yeonggwang-3 System 80 1000 1995
Yeonggwang-4 System 80 1000 1996
Yeonggwang-5 KSNP 1000 2002
Yeonggwang-6 KSNP 1000 2002
Shin Kori 1 OPR-1000 1000 2011
Shin Kori 2 OPR-1000 1000 2011 (Under trials)
Shin Wolsong 1 OPR-1000 1000 2012 (Under trials)
Shin Wolsong 2 OPR-1000 1000 2013 (Under trials)
Shin Kori 3 APR-1400 1400 2013 (Under trials)[10]
Shin Kori 4 APR-1400 1400 2014 (Under construction)
Shin Ulchin 1 APR-1400 1400 2015 (Planned)
Shin Ulchin 2 APR-1400 1400 2016 (Planned)
Shin Kori 5 APR-1400 1400 2018 (Planned)
Shin Kori 6 APR-1400 1400 2019 (Planned)
Shin Ulchin 3 APR-1400 1400 2020 (Planned)
Shin Ulchin 4 APR-1400 1400 2021 (Planned)

Research Reactors:

  • Aerojet General Nucleonics Model 201 Research Reactor
  • HANARO, MAPLE class reactor
  • TRIGA General Atomics Mark II (TRIGA-Mark II) Research Reactor
  • KSTAR Reactor

See also



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