South Korea launches SMR alliance

6 July 2023

South Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry & Energy (MOTIE) is establishing a private-public partnership with major corporations including SK and GS Energy to drive the small modular reactor (SMR) industry. This is expected to lead to concrete measures for revitalisation of the SMR industry by the end of the year.

At the inaugural ceremony in Seoul, Minister Lee Chang-yang stated: “Public agencies related to nuclear power, which have safely constructed and managed large nuclear power plants for decades, must continue to play a leading role in the future SMR market.” He added: “We will not hesitate to provide policy support such as regulatory reform, technology development, personnel training, and tax support to foster the SMR industry, maintaining safety as our top priority.”

The SMR Alliance consists of a total of 42 entities comprising 11 government and public institutions including MOTIE, Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power, Energy Economics Institute, Export-Import Bank of Korea, Korea Trade Insurance Corporation, and 31 companies including SK, GS Energy, Samsung C&T, Daewoo Construction, GS Engineering & Construction, and Doosan Enerbility.

The alliance aims to strengthen national competitiveness in the SMR field by integrating the capabilities of both private and public sectors and developing strategies for the establishment of SMR business strategies and a regulatory foundation.

The 31 firms said the government should bolster public acceptance of SMRs, mostly for safety concerns and benefits. "We need to raise awareness that the SMRs are safe, as strengthened by transparent communication throughout to help many understand the benefits of reinvigorating the economy under the context of energy efficiency," said SK CEO Jang Dong-hyun, who was appointed the Alliance’s first chair.

"Our efforts can only go so far, unless the government revises energy-related laws and outlines medium- to long-term policies to include nuclear energy in the country's power plan. Measures are needed for strong local players to find a standing in the global supply chain for sustainable growth," he added.

Image: The launch ceremony for the SMR Alliance (courtesy of Ministry of Trade, Industry & Energy)

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