Gov’t says it will refocus on exports of nuclear techKorea will refocus efforts to export its nuclear technology despite the Moon Jae-in administration’s domestic policy shift away from the energy source.
The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy announced Thursday a series of measures to develop the local industry beyond its traditional business of domestic nuclear plant construction and to compete for overseas orders and management contracts for plants over their full operational cycles.
The government said it will fast-track approvals for financial support by state-backed banks and agencies like the Export-Import Bank of Korea and the Korea Trade Insurance Corporation, while increasing a budget for research and development support for small- and medium-sized companies. The budget will rise by over 70 percent to an annual average of 142 billion won ($120 million) in the next five years from an average of 82.7 billion won in the last five years.
“There are obstacles to solve such as the ability of small- and medium-sized companies to export independently, participation in the global supply chain and entry into other services such as operation, maintenance and decommissioning,” said Industry Minister Sung Yun-mo during a meeting with nuclear industry representatives.
“Our nuclear export industry needs to transition into a strategy focused on all stages of nuclear plant operation and small- and medium-sized companies,” he continued.
According to the Trade Ministry, the global market for building large-scale nuclear plants will be $120 billion over the next 20 years, while the market for their management is expected to be $40 billion per year.
Korea’s Doosan Heavy Industries and Construction, which specializes in building nuclear plant components, has a 3.1 percent of the market share for managing nuclear power plants, while U.S.-based Westinghouse holds the top spot with a 24.7 percent share.
The announcement is expected to help a local nuclear industry discouraged by the current administration’s move away from nuclear energy.
Moon’s administration has scrapped plans for the construction of four new nuclear power plants as part of his campaign promise to reduce Korea’s reliance on nuclear energy because of the risks of a Fukushima-style meltdown. Korea’s nuclear power generation capacity is expected to fall from 2023.
BY CHAE YUN-HWAN [firstname.lastname@example.org]
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