Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP) announced on 22 May that unit 1 of the Shin Hanul NPP in Uljin, North Gyeongsang Province, had achieved criticality. Shin Hanul 1 is Korea’s 27th nuclear power unit. It obtained an operating licence from the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission in July 2021.

Shin Hanul 1 is an APR1400 reactor, similar to Shin Kori units 3 and 4. It is the first nuclear reactor in Korea whose core parts, including the reactor coolant pump (RCP) and the man-machine interface system (MMIS), were locally produced.

“Safety comes first at Shin Hanul Unit 1,” a KHNP official said. “We are planning to produce electric power at Shin Hanul 1 for the first time in early June after undergoing a performance test of its system and hope to start its full-scale commercial operations in the second half of this year.”

The APR-1400 reactor design was approved by European Utility Requirements in October 2017and obtained design certification from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in 2018. The first two APR-1400 units – Shin Kori 3 and 4 began operation in 2016 and 2019. Construction of two further APR-1400s as Shin Kori 5 and 6 began in 2017 and 2018 and are scheduled to be commissioned in 2023 and 2024.

South Korea's new President, Yoon Suk-yeol has said he will reverse former President Moon Jae-in's policy of phasing out nuclear power and may restart construction of two further APR-1400s as Shin Hanul units 3 and 4.

Image: Shin Hanul's unit 1 has achieved criticality