President promises support for nuclear energy industry
In an effort to rebuild a business that President Yoon Suk-yeol says was devastated by the previous administration, the government is using 92.5 billion won ($70 million) from the energy budget for the restoration of nuclear power generation capacity.
It hopes to spend 1 trillion won on rebuilding the industry by 2025.
The funding will be used to resume construction of the Shin Hanul 3 and 4 reactors, which was halted during the Moon Jae-in government under a nuclear-energy phaseout policy.
The government plans to provide 380 billion won worth of liquidity support for the nuclear energy industry this year, including technology loan guarantees and 670 billion won for R&D on next-generation nuclear reactors, such as small modular reactors.
This investment will be increased to a minimum of 3 trillion won by 2025.
The end of the nuclear phaseout of the previous administration was announced during Yoon's visit to Doosan Enerbility, an energy solutions company also specializing in nuclear power, and the Shin Hanul reactors in Changwon, South Gyeongsang.
Yoon, Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy Lee Chang-yang and Minister of SMEs and Startups Lee Young held a meeting with heads of nuclear energy companies and parts suppliers, including Doosan Enerbility CEO Park Gee-won.
The president was briefed by Doosan Enerbility on the APR1400 reactor, which has been developed solely with Korean technology. The APR1400 was used in the Barakah nuclear project in the UAE.
Yoon promised full government support while criticizing the previous administration's nuclear energy phaseout.
"Our nuclear energy industry is on the verge of annihilation," he said. "Even if we want to win projects, we won't be able to once the ecosystem is broken and technicians leave the industry."
He said he will do his best to campaign for Korea's nuclear energy capabilities when meeting with foreign heads of states.
Noting that the global nuclear energy market will increase to 1,000 trillion won by 2030, Yoon said full support will also have a positive impact on Korea's economy.
"The current situation is like a warzone where the nuclear energy industry has been turned into ruins after a 'nuclear energy phaseout' bomb exploded," Yoon said.
According to the Energy Ministry, Korea's nuclear energy industry contracted under the previous administration.
Compared to 2016, the combined revenue of nuclear energy companies declined 25 percent from 5.5 trillion won in 2016 to 4.1 trillion won in 2020.
Korea's nuclear energy sales overseas plummeted 73 percent from $126 million to $33 million during the same period, while the workforce contracted by 14 percent from 22,000 to 19,000.
As part of the Yoon government's energy-policy reversal, the Korean government is increasing efforts to sell Korean nuclear energy projects overseas.
Energy Minister Lee will be traveling to the Czech Republic and Poland on June 26 to win nuclear projects.
Korea is competing against U.S. and French companies in bidding for Czech Republic's first nuclear power plant, a 1,200-megawatt reactor in Dukovany estimated to cost over $6 billion.
It is also vying to construct six nuclear power plants in Poland with 6,000 to 9,000 megawatts of capacity, a project costing at least $40 billion.
If Korea is picked, it would be its first successful win of a full nuclear plant project since the UAE nuclear power plant deal was signed in 2009.
Doosan Enerbility promised to increase its support of business partners, including with five-year contracts, while increasing its funds supporting smaller contractors from 24 billion won to 84 billion won.
BY LEE HO-JEONG [firstname.lastname@example.org]