South Korea’s government will offer a comprehensive support programme valued at up to KRW400m ($300,639) a year to local nuclear companies, with the aim of encouraging 60 new nuclear equipment exporters by 2027. The goal is to help smaller companies reduce dependence on government projects, therefore securing global market competitiveness amid rising demand for nuclear facilities worldwide.

According to the Ministry of Trade, Industry & Energy (MOTIE), Korea’s nuclear companies have signed 143 export deals totalling $530m over the past five years. In most of the deals, the private companies participated as subcontractors for overseas projects won by state-run companies. Export deals signed directly by small- and mid-sized companies accounted for only 9% of the total.

The new measure, which integrates support programmes scattered across various government branches into one package, hopes to encourage smaller companies to sign export deals directly.

Through the programme, MOTIE aims to increase the total number of direct nuclear exporters in Korea from last year’s 40 to 100.

The ministry will select 10 companies this year, and offer them financial, administrative and marketing support throughout all stages of export projects. Each company will receive support measures of up to KRW400m a year. A total of 60 companies will receive support by 2027.

The Yoon Suk Yeol administration has said it hopes to export 10 NPPs by 2030, and win nuclear equipment projects worth KRW5,000bn by 2027. Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP) signed a contract to build a turbine island for the El Dabaa nuclear plant in Egypt last year, and also a €195m ($209.4m) deal with Romania to build a tritium removal facility in June. Currently KHNP’s export plans are being impeded by a Westinghouse lawsuit filed in October 2022 alleging that the APR1400 reactor it plans to build in Poland contains Westinghouse technology. KHNP is contesting this.