Nuclear reactors hit 3 trillion kilowatt-hour mark

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Nuclear reactors hit 3 trillion kilowatt-hour mark

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Korean nuclear reactors surpassed a cumulative generation of 3 trillion kilowatt-hours of electricity, 37 years after the nation’s first nuclear reactor Gori 1 first started operation in 1978, the Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Corporation (KHNP) announced on Monday.

The KHNP reached 1 trillion kilowatt-hours in November 2000 and 2 trillion kilowatt-hours in May 2008.

According to the company, this amount of electricity could power the entire city of Seoul, at its current rate of consumption, for the next 65 years. It could power the nation’s largest electricity consumer, the Hyundai Steel factory in Dangjin, South Chungcheong, for 545 years.

The KHNP emphasized that the reactors were major contributors to the nation’s economic development by supplying cheap electricity to industries and households.

According to data from Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in 2013, Korea’s industrial-use electricity is priced at about $98.90 per megawatt hour, lower than the OECD average $118.60. Korean household electricity fees are $146.2 per megawatt hour - much more expensive than industrial-use, but still lower than the OECD average of $163.2.

The KHNP also explained that nuclear power has been environmentally friendly, having prevented about 2 billion tons of carbon emissions over the past three decades. According to the Korean government’s carbon credit trading system, which went in effect starting this year, this saved emissions is worth 20 trillion won in credit.

“In Korea, which imports most of the raw materials used in energy generation, nuclear power largely contributed in boosting our energy independence,” said KHNP CEO Cho Seok, explaining that the largest raw material imports for energy generation come from coal, liquefied natural gas and the oil used at thermal power plants.

Korea is the world’s fifth-largest in terms of annual generation capacity, at 20,176 megawatt-hours.

BY KIM JI-YOON [kim.jiyoon@joongang.co.kr]

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