South Korea and Saudi Arabia strengthen cooperation on SMART reactor

9 January 2020

SMART integral reactor (Credit: KAERI)South Korea’s Ministry of Science and ICT (MSICT) intends to establish a joint venture with Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KaCare) to spearhead the construction of Korea’s SMART small modular reactor  unit in Saudi Arabia.

MSICT has signed a revised pre-project engineering contract with KaCare to jointly set up an entity, tentatively named SMART EPC, that will lead the commercialisation and construction of the SMR.

The agreement is a revision to a memorandum of understanding signed in September to commercialise the SMR technology. It aims to shorten the review process to accelerate the construction of the reactor and acquire a standard design approval for easier export.

Roles and responsibilities for approval and financing are elaborated in the contract. MSICT said the amendment had been made in response to a request from Saudi Arabia that Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP) participates in the project. It said the company's experience in the construction and operation of power reactors would reduce risks in the construction of the first SMART unit.

The 330MWt SMART (System-integrated Modular Advanced Reactor) is a pressurised water reactor with integral steam generators and advanced safety features.

SMART was developed by the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI), and received standard design approval from the Korean regulator in 2012.

KAERI had planned to build SMART demonstration plant to operate from 2017 but development was stalled by the absence of any orders for an initial reference unit.

SMART is designed for electricity generation (up to 110MWe) as well as for thermal applications (365 MWt), such as seawater desalination, with a 60-year design life and three-year refuelling cycle. The pressuriser, cooling pump, steam generator and core are placed inside the reactor pressure vessel.

Before the launch of the joint venture, KHNP will lead projects to refine the reactor, license it for use in Saudi Arabia and build business models and infrastructure, and find ways to export the technology to other countries.

Photo: SMART reactor developed by the Korean Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI)

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