South Korea bets on nuclear power and relaunches the construction of two reactors


By 2030, the Department of Energy wants nuclear to account for at least 30% of the country’s electricity generation, an increase from its previous target of 27%.

To achieve this, South Korea is relaunching the construction of two new reactors at the Hanul nuclear power plant on the east coast of the country. Construction of the two reactors has stalled since 2017, when former President Moon Jae-in – who had pushed to phase out nuclear power – took office.

But with a new president in office, South Korea’s nuclear industry is back in full swing.

Yoon Suk Yeol, who assumed the role in May, criticized Moon’s stance on nuclear power and expressed support for the declining industry throughout his election campaign.

“Due to excessive pressure on nuclear phase-out, the best nuclear technology in our world has been devastated,” Yoon said in a Facebook post in February ahead of the election, adding that he wanted to “build a nuclear power plant.” .

Work on the new reactors follows “the highest decision-making procedures of the Yoon administration”, the Energy Ministry said on Tuesday, adding that it would investigate how to deal with “highly radioactive waste”.

The country will always strive to phase out coal, the energy ministry said on Tuesday, and aims to reduce fossil fuel imports to 60% of the country’s total energy supply by 2030, from 81 .8% in 2021.

But investment in nuclear power could come at the expense of other renewables efforts, with the ministry saying its renewables targets would be “reinstated”. He did not give specific numbers for the new goals.

“The specific ratio of different energy sources, such as solar and wind (offshore), must be determined for optimal results,” the ministry said. “The use of carbon-free energy sources should take into account the technological circumstances.”

He added that a “feasible and reasonable energy mix” must be created.

During his presidency, Moon pledged to make the country carbon neutral by 2050 and shift the energy balance from nuclear power and fossil fuels to renewables and natural gas. Among its many initiatives is the increase in renewable energy production and the use of electric vehicles.

The use of nuclear energy was questioned around the world after the collapse of Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi power plant following a devastating earthquake and tsunami in 2011. Some countries, including Germany, have pledged to eliminate it completely.

But in South Korea, nuclear power has long been big business. The country lacks natural resources and relies heavily on importing its energy supply from other countries.

According to the World Nuclear Association, 25 national nuclear power plants supply about a third of South Korea’s electricity needs.

The country is also a major exporter of nuclear technology to the world and is involved in the construction of the first nuclear power plant in the United Arab Emirates.

Additional Reuters reporting.

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