Lofty goals set for nuclear exports

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Lofty goals set for nuclear exports

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President Lee Myung-bak, second from left in front, tours the construction site of a nuclear reactor with Knowledge Economy Minister Choi Kyung-hwan, first from left in front, in Ulsan, yesterday. The ministry has laid out plans to export 80 nuclear reactors by 2030. By Cho Mun-gyu


Korea has set an aggressive goal of exporting 80 reactors by the end of 2030 as it looks to become one of the world’s top three suppliers of nuclear power plants, a move that could bring with it an avalanche of new jobs and provide a boost to the economy.

The global nuclear industry expects a total of 430 nuclear power plants to be built by that year, meaning Korea will have to capture nearly 20 percent of new orders over the next two decades.

The Ministry of Knowledge Economy announced the target yesterday in a meeting with President Lee Myung-bak while laying out its plan to enhance the country’s nuclear power industry and make reactors a top export. The ministry said that as the competitiveness of Korea’s nuclear reactors has been proven with the recent United Arab Emirates deal, Korea will be able to secure orders for 10 nuclear reactors by 2012 and capture dozens more by 2030. If Korea meets the target, it expects to bring in $400 billion in earnings and generate 1.56 million new jobs.

According to Blue House spokeswoman Kim Eun-hye, President Lee stressed at the meeting that the nuclear power industry will become a new growth engine for a country that does not produce a single drop of oil. Korea, therefore, needs to step up its efforts in developing the industry.

“With our strategy of turning the nation’s nuclear power plant technology into a leading export industry, we are building a foundation for the next 50 years,” said Knowledge Economy Minister Choi Kyung-hwan. “The key to success is endless technology innovation and raising new talent, and the government plans to focus on these areas.”

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The minister also emphasized that the nuclear power industry will help ease unemployment, particularly among young people, and energize small and midsize companies.

The government’s long-term strategic plans include the localization of major core technologies by 2012. To do this, the government decided to earmark 99.6 billion won ($88.5 million) for research.

Also, the government jointly with the private sector will inject 400 billion won by 2017 in research and development that will expand the life expectancy of nuclear power plants from the current 60 years to 80 years and reduce the time in constructing a reactor from the previous 52 months to 36 months.

Along these lines, the ministry said it will hire 2,800 new employees through next year who will be working at the five nuclear-related state-run agencies, including the Korea Electric Power Corp.

The world’s first international graduate school specializing in nuclear study will open in September of next year, months earlier than the initial target of March 2012. The government is looking at producing 100 experts with highly advanced degrees every year. It is also out to raise self-development of uranium, which is essential in operating nuclear power plants.

With its winning bid to build four nuclear reactors in the United Arab Emirates, Korea has become the world’s sixth country to export nuclear power plants, joining the U.S., Russia, France, Japan and Canada.

“Korea’s competitiveness is already on a global level,” said Vice Minister Kim Young-hak.


By Lee Ho-jeong [ojlee82@joogang.co.kr]

Related Korean Article

이 대통령 고리 원전 방문, “한국이 원전 수출하면 다른 상품 인식 좋아질 것”


정부가 한국전력공사를 통해 2030년까지 80기의 원자력발전소를 수출하겠다는 계획을 세웠다. 아직 해외에 의존하고 있는 원전 핵심 기술도 2012년까지는 국산화할 계획이다. 지식경제부는 13일 고리 원자력발전소에서 이명박 대통령 주재로 열린 비상경제대책회의에 이 같은 내용의 ‘원자력발전 수출 산업화 전략’을 보고했다.

이 대통령은 “원전을 수출하게 되면 다른 상품에 대한 인식도 좋아질 것”이라며 “새로운 공법을 계속 개발해 원천기술을 확보하고 개도국뿐 아니라 선진국 시장까지 진출하는 기틀을 마련해야 한다”고 말했다.

정부 추산에 따르면 앞으로 20년간 전 세계에서 430기의 원전이 건설될 계획이다. 지금까지 원전을 지어 수출할 수 있는 나라는 미국·프랑스·일본·캐나다·러시아 등 다섯 나라뿐이었다. 한국은 지난해 말 UAE에 원전 4기의 수출을 성사시킨 것을 계기로 해외시장에 뛰어들었는데, 2012년 10기를 포함해 2030년까지 80기를 수출해 세계시장 점유율을 20%까지 끌어올린다는 계획이다. 그대로 실현된다면 원전으로만 지난해 우리나라 총수출액보다 많은 4000억 달러를 벌어들이게 된다. 또 이 분야에서 156만7000여 개의 일자리가 새로 생기고, 부품을 납품하는 중소기업의 매출은 27조원 불어날 전망이다.

정부는 이를 위해 966억원을 투입해 2012년까지 원전설계코드와 원자로 냉각재 펌프, 원전제어계측장치 등의 3대 핵심기술을 완전 국산화하고, 이를 새로 짓는 신울진 1, 2호기에 적용키로 했다. 또 민관이 함께 4000억원의 연구개발(R&D)비를 투자할 계획이다. 개발이 끝나면 현재 60년인 원전 수명은 80년으로 늘어나고 건설 공기는 52개월에서 36개월로 줄어든다는 게 정부 설명이다.



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