Korean-built UAE nuclear power plant supplying electricity
Korea's first and only overseas design-build-operate-and-maintain nuclear project has been completed, with the Barakah-plant in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) now up an running and supplying electricity.
It was more than a decade in the making and is the only of 80 projects that the government had hoped to sell in its drive to become an export powerhouse in nuclear energy.
The plant is also the first peaceful nuclear plant in the Arab world.
Korea Electric Power Corp. (Kepco) Tuesday announced that one of the four reactors at Barakah started commercial operations.
The power plant will be operated by a joint venture between UAE's Emirates Nuclear Energy Corp. (ENEC) and Kepco.
According to Kepco, once all four of the 1,400-megawatt reactors go online, the project will likely supply 25 percent of the UAE's energy needs.
The Korean power supplier said carbon emissions will be reduced by 21 million tons, which is equivalent to pollution created by 3.2 million vehicles.
The Blue House on Wednesday said President Moon Jae-in congratulated UAE on its first successful operation of the nuclear reactor.
President Moon sent a letter to Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan emphasizing the strong relationship between the two countries, noting that the nuclear power plant in Barakah is not only an icon of UAE innovation but also a symbol of friendship between the two countries.
President Moon added he hopes the remaining three reactors will be successful as well.
The Korean government won the $18.6 billion contract from the UAE in 2009.
It is not only Korea's first nuclear power plant export but also the country's only all-inclusive contract, which includes everything from designing to operating.
The nuclear power plant export was part of the Lee Myung-bak administration's energy policy, which focused on increasing Korea's energy sovereignty through nuclear power and renewable energy and aggressively exporting the country's green energy technologies.
With a lack of natural resources, Korea has been highly dependent on energy imports.
Under the "nuclear power renaissance," the Lee government announced a plan to raise the contribution of nuclear energy from 36 percent of the total in 2007 to 59 percent by 2030.
The government targeted 10 nuclear power plant exports by 2012 and 80 by 2030, with the hope of making Korea one of the top three nuclear power plant exporting countries. After the Fukushima nuclear accident, the public attitude toward nuclear power turned negative.
President Moon Jae-in has been pushing the phaseout of nuclear power in Korea. His government emphasized increasing the contribution of renewable energy, including solar and wind.
Since the UAE contract, Korea failed to win more deals.
Korea's commitment to the UAE contract was questioned, but Moon attended a ceremony celebrating the completion of the nuclear reactor in UAE in March 2018, where he expressed that he is committed to deepening and strengthening relations with the country.
The commercial operations of the reactor is years behind schedule, with completion originally set for 2017.
BY LEE HO-JEONG [firstname.lastname@example.org]