Kazakhstan Nuclear Power Plants (KNPP) and Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) promising comprehensive cooperation for the introduction of new NPPs in Kazakhstan during a visit to Seoul by a Kazakh delegation headed by Deputy Energy Minister Zhandos Nurmaganbetov. The MOU will "help strengthen the strategic partnership between Kazakhstan and South Korea in the field of nuclear energy development," the Kazakh Energy Ministry said.
KHNP is a subsidiary of Korea Electric Power Company (Kepco). At the MOU signing Kepco noted: “We are preparing to submit a proposal for the construction of two new nuclear power plants with a capacity of up to 2,800 MWe to the president within the third quarter, and we are aiming to start construction in 2029 and to complete construction in 2035.” The Kazakh delegation on 29 June visited South Korea’s Shin-Kori NPP.
The Kazakh National Wealth Fund Samruk-Kazyna, together with the Ministry of Energy and interested organisations had considered the technologies of six global suppliers based on previously submitted proposals. These included: NuScale Power’s Small modular reactor (USA); GE-Hitachi’s BWRX-300 low power reactor (USA-Japan); KHNP’s APR-1000 and APR-1400 reactors; China National Nuclear Corporation’s HPR-1000 and CNP-600+ reactors; Rosatom’s VVER-1200 and VVER-1000 reactors (Russia); and Electricite de France’s ATMEA1 reactor.
However, the Energy Ministry dropped NuScale Power and GE-Hitachi “given the lack of experience in the world practice in the construction and operation of low-power reactors” and decided to look at “time-tested large-capacity reactor technologies with operating experience”.
Four technologies are currently under consideration, general director of KNPP Timur Zhantikin said on 14 June. "Naturally, it's Rosatom, which is now building more than anyone else, not only having technologies that have proven successful but the entire construction process that is well established. We always look at the supply chain.” The others are France China and Korea. “As you know, Korea has built the most recent project in the UAE and … is now embarking on projects in Europe and the USA," he added.
The site of the future NPP has been selected - Lake Balkhash in southern Kazakhstan. Construction of a nuclear plant has been under discussion for many years and recently interest has been renewed in face of a possible future shortage of electricity. The NPP project is not universally popular among the public but has government support.
The Kazakh Energy Ministry expects construction to take up to ten years, with the cost of one power unit reaching $5 billion. Kazakhstan's energy balance forecast for the period up to 2035 proposes the launch of an NPP with an aggregate capacity of 2.4 GW among possible options.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said earlier that Russia was ready to build an NPP for Kazakhstan. Putin then said this offer was not limited to just constructing an NPP. "This concerns creating a whole sector, which includes training personnel at Russian higher-educational institutions in new professions associated with the use of nuclear power," he said. The Kazakh Energy Ministry and Rosatom concluded a memorandum on cooperation in training personnel for the civilian nuclear energy industry at the start of 2022.
Image: Signing of the MoU between KHNP and KNPP (photo courtesy of KHNP)