Energy delegation to vie for nuclear projects in Europe

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Energy delegation to vie for nuclear projects in Europe

The Korean government is working to export nuclear technology to Europe, with the energy minister set to visit several countries in the region next week, even as it continues to pursue a policy of dismantling nuclear power plants at home.

Paik Un-gyu, Korea’s minister for trade, industry and energy, said during a meeting with local reporters on Monday that he will travel to Europe starting Saturday with Cho Hwan-eik, the president and CEO of the state-owned Korea Electric Power Corporation, and Lee Kwan-sup, head of Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power, the state-run nuclear power plant operator.

In the United Kingdom, they are scheduled to meet with Greg Clark, the secretary of state for business, energy and industrial energy, to discuss the possibility of exporting Korean reactors. In particular, they are hoping for the participation of Korean energy companies in nuclear energy projects in the United Kingdom, including the Moorside nuclear project.

Paik will also meet with executives at Korean companies operating in the United Kingdom to hear about the impact of Brexit on their businesses.

In 2009, the Korea Electric Power Corporation won a bid to build a nuclear power plant in the United Arab Emirates under an EPC contract, in which the company was responsible only for construction of the plant.

But in the United Kingdom, the government is pursuing an IPP contract, in which Kepco will not only be responsible for building the reactor but also operating it and selling electricity. Paik said it would be more difficult to predict the outcome of the meeting compared to the UAE deal.

In France, dismantlement technology will be the main agenda item. As Korea is working to shut down its aging power plants, the government is hoping the lessons learned can apply abroad.

Paik’s delegation will meet with France’s environment minister, Nicolas Hulot, to discuss their push to cut nuclear’s contribution to the country’s electricity mix. The Korean ministry sees it as an opportunity for local energy companies to share dismantlement technology and experience.

In London and Paris, Paik plans to meet with investors as money coming from Europe to Korea has fallen this year. During the third quarter, foreign direct investment committed from the European Union fell by over 40 percent compared to a year before.

The final destination of Paik’s trip will be the Czech Republic, where the Korean government expressed intent to join a bid for a nuclear project last month.


BY CHOI HYUNG-JO [choi.hyungjo@joongang.co.kr]

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