South Korean President affirms support for nuclear

24 June 2022

South Korea’s new president, Yoon Suk-yeol, said on 22 June that in order to rebuild the nuclear industry that was “devastated by the previous administration”, the government will allocate KRW92.5 billion ($70 million) from the energy budget for the restoration of nuclear power generation capacity. It aims to spend KRW1,000 billion to rebuild the industry by 2025. He was speaking during a visit to energy solutions company Doosan Enerbility formerly Doosan Heavy Industries and Construction, in Changwon, South Gyeongsang Province. 

The funding will be used to resume construction of the Shin Hanul 3&4 reactors, which was halted during the Moon Jae-in government’s nuclear phaseout policy. The government plans to provide KRW380 billion worth of liquidity support for the nuclear energy industry this year, including technology loan guarantees and KRW670 billion for R&D on next-generation nuclear reactors, such as small modular reactors. This will be increased to at least KRW3,000 billion by 2025. 

President Yoon, Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy Lee Chang-yang and Minister of SME and Startups Lee Young met with heads of nuclear energy companies and parts suppliers, including Doosan Enerbility CEO Park Gee-won. He was briefed by Doosan Enerbility on the APR1400 reactor, developed solely with Korean technology, which was used at the Barakah nuclear project in the UAE. 

He criticised the previous administration's nuclear energy phaseout. "Our nuclear energy industry is on the verge of annihilation," he said. "Even if we want to win projects, we won't be able to once the ecosystem is broken and technicians leave the industry." He added: 

"The current situation is like a warzone where the nuclear energy industry has been turned into ruins after a 'nuclear energy phaseout' bomb exploded." 

As part of the new government's energy-policy reversal, the sale of Korean nuclear energy projects overseas is being promoted. Energy Minister Lee will visit the Czech Republic and Poland hoping to win nuclear projects. Korea is competing against US and French companies in bidding for Czech Republic's planned new unit at the Dukovany NPP estimated to cost more than $6 billion. It is also competing to construct six nuclear plants in Poland in a project costing at least $40 billion.

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