South Korea and Netherlands agree on nuclear co-operation

19 December 2023

During South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol‘s state visit to the Netherlands an agreement was signed to cooperate on nuclear power, including a feasibility study by Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP) for the construction of a NPP in the Netherlands.

A joint statement from President Yoon and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said: "The two leaders recognised the role nuclear energy can play in enhancing energy security, combatting climate change and reaching carbon neutrality, and agreed to maintain and further develop bilateral cooperation on nuclear energy topics such as construction and operation of nuclear power plants; workforce development; nuclear fuel; safety; and innovation of gigawatt-scale nuclear reactors, small modular reactors and other advanced nuclear reactors."

South Korea’s industry ministry said it had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Dutch Economic Affairs ministry to support the new plant order. KHNP signed a memorandum of understanding with the Netherlands’ Economic Affairs & Climate Policy Ministry on the feasibility study.

The Dutch government said in a statement that KHNP will begin the feasibility study in January. The study will consider whether the reactor design complies with Dutch legislation and regulations, whether it can be fitted into the preferred location at Borssele. It will develop a more detailed estimate of the costs and time required to build the two new units. The possible impact on the environment will also be investigated. The study is expected to last at least six months.

The government said similar contracts with US Westinghouse and EDF "will follow soon". It added: "These studies are necessary to determine whether it is technically possible and safe to build new nuclear power stations at the preferred location in Borssele," it said. "An independent party will then evaluate the technical feasibility studies. The first results are expected to be shared in the autumn of 2024."

The Netherlands’ only operating NPP at Borssele was built in the 1970s and is due to be decommissioned in 2033. In 2022, the Netherlands announced plans to build two reactors by 2035, taking nuclear’s share of generating capacity from 3% to 13%. MOTIE said South Korea would participate in any bids for new nuclear plants, the Korean Times reported.

The ministry said: “We have agreed to cooperate in the entire cycle of the nuclear power sector, including construction and operation of nuclear power plants, supply of equipment, development of technology such as small modular reactors, education and training, fuel and safety and to establish a joint operation committee between the two governments to build a mutually beneficial partnership.”

President Yoon said in a statement: "Based on the nuclear power plant cooperation MOU … we will actively support Korean companies with the world's best construction competitiveness to participate in the new nuclear power plant project in the Netherlands."

Image: South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte attend the signing of the Dutch-Korean agreements

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