The South Korean government says it will seek ways to expand power supply capacity, including the construction of new NPPs, to meet increasing power demand from new investments in high-tech industries. The issue was discussed by the Ministry of Trade, Industry & Energy (Motie) during its 29th Energy Committee meeting chaired by Minister Lee Chang-yang.

“We need to consider expanding nuclear power plants and hydrogen production so that we can respond timely to the growing demand for electricity and supply power stably and efficiently,” Lee told the meeting. “It is an important task to expand the power grid in a timely manner to ensure stable power supply at any time, and to reorganise the power market system efficiently and fairly,” he added.

The ministry also decided to embark early on the 11th Basic Plan for Long-term Electricity Supply & Demand, which will cover the period from 2024 to 2038, after committee members called for addressing delays in formulating the plan. Normally, the plan is finalised at the end of the start year, and the 10th Plan for the period from 2022 to 2036 was finalised in January.

That plan envisaged nuclear energy increasing to 34.6%, reflecting the start-up of six new reactors between now and 2033 (Shin Hanul units 1-4 and Shin Kori units 5 and 6) as well as the continued operation of 12 existing reactors. Nuclear generating capacity is expected to increase from 24.7 GWe in 2022 to 28.9 GWe in 2030 and to 31.7 GWe in 2036. It also set a target for exporting 10 NPPs by 2030 as well as the development of a Korean small modular reactor (SMR). The 11th Plan is expected to propose more ambitious targets.

The minister has been emphasising the need to expand power supply, including nuclear, to meet rising demand, reflecting the policy of President Yoon Suk-yeol who reversed the nuclear phase-out plans of his predecessor. Recently Lee met with Chris Levesque, CEO of US SMR development company TerraPower and agreed to co-operation.

"Many private companies have stressed the need to expand electricity supply capacity, including building new nuclear power plants," the Motie said in a statement following the Energy Committee meeting.

Image: Korean Energy Minister Lee Chang-yang (R) (courtesy of MOTIE)