Korea seeks to boost nuclear exports

1 September 2023

South Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry & Energy (MOTIE) and Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP) at a “Nuclear Power Plant Equipment Export Integrated Briefing” at the Kepco Art Centre in Seoul presented strategies to boost nuclear exports. More than 200 domestic nuclear power plant equipment and component companies participated in the briefing. The meeting heard that procurement for the El Dabaa project in Egypt will begin in October and for the tritium removal facility project in Romania in November. This will unlock a total of 104 items with a value of KRW800bn ($603.77m) in nuclear power plant equipment exports.

In August 2022, KHNP signed a contract with Rosatom for the construction of the turbine islands at the El Dabaa NPP project in Egypt. KHNP will construct about 80 buildings and structures at the NPP’s four units, being built by Russia, and will purchase and supply equipment and materials for the turbine islands of the units.

According to MOTIE, the El Dabaa project, consisting of 81 items, is valued at KRW690bn.

In June, KHNP signed an Engineering, Procurement & Construction (EPC) contract with Romanian nuclear utility Societatea Nationala Nucleoeléctrica (SNN) for construction of the Cernavoda Tritium Removal Facility (CTRF). MOTIE said the Romania project, comprising 23 items, has a value of KRW110bn.

The MOTIE and KHNP said they plan to expedite the procurement of NPP equipment, aiming to swiftly supply large-scale export orders to the domestic nuclear power industry. This initiative is intended to support nuclear power companies that have been struggling since the nuclear power phase-out policy. The goal is to conclude contracts within six months after procurement begins. This timeline includes one month for bidding announcements, two and half months for bid evaluation, one month for bidder selection, and one-and-a-half months for contract signing.

The government is also reducing the burden on companies participating in overseas projects. For 215 KHNP partner companies, it is exempting them from the overseas project qualification assessment, essentially granting them the status of KHNP’s “Overseas Project Qualified Supplier”. This removes the entry barriers that previously required companies to pass assessments in three areas – management, quality, and technology – before being registered as qualified suppliers for overseas projects, allowing them to participate in bidding.

The Yoon Suk Yeol administration, which in 2022 reversed the nuclear phase-out policy of the previous Moon Jae-in government, is currently working towards its goal of becoming a comprehensive nuclear power exporter. This includes exporting ten NPPs by 2030, securing nuclear power equipment orders worth KRW5,000bn by 2027, and supporting 100 domestic small and medium-sized enterprises engaged in independent nuclear power equipment exports.

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