South Korea Aims for Nuclear Power Deals

SEOUL, Jan. 21 (UPI) — After closing 2009 with a $20 billion order from the United Arab Emirates to build nuclear power plants, South Korea aims to ink more deals.

“We’re in serious talks with Turkey, Jordan and Malaysia and we’ve attracted China and India’s interest,” Chung Kun Mo, a nuclear adviser to state-run utility Korea Electric Power Corp., told Bloomberg Wednesday.

“There are many countries knocking on our door. Even Kenya is interested.”

Vice Minister of Knowledge Economy Kim Young-hak, who is currently visiting the UAE, confirmed that negotiations are under way with a couple of countries for nuclear power plants, the Korea Times reports.

Because of Korea Electric’s domestic experience, in which the company has been adding nuclear generators “almost every year,” Chung said, it can build reactors cheaper and faster than global competitors.

For the UAE deal, announced Dec. 27, Korea Electric came out ahead against Areva SA and General Electric Co.

According to the Ministry of Knowledge Economy, the cost of building Korea Electric’s APR1400 reactor is $2,300 per kilowatt compared with $2,900 for Areva’s EPR and Japan’s ABWR.

“Developing markets, including African countries, would be a good target for South Korea as they lack experience and need more power capacity to meet demand,” Choi Won Kyung, an analyst at Kiwoom Securities Co., told Bloomberg. “Korea Electric can win at least one order every year after successfully building the UAE plants. The pie is getting bigger.”

Following the Dec. 27 UAE deal announcement, South Korea’s Ministry of Knowledge reported it expects South Korea to build at least 80 power reactors in other countries by 2030.

“Nuclear power-related business will be the most profitable market after automobiles, semiconductors and shipbuilding,” the report says.

As for the UAE deal, the first reactor is scheduled to go online in 2017, with all four expected to be operating by 2020.

“The deal with the UAE demonstrated that Korea has an edge in nuclear plants not only in prices but also technologies and facility capabilities,” Professor Hwang Joo-ho at Kyung Hee University said, the Times reports. “India and China would be the immediate target countries for us. Over the long haul, the United States would be the eventual battlefield where our entities should show their competitiveness,” he said.

South Korea relies on atomic power for nearly 40 percent of its electricity supply, more than double the global rate of 15 percent.

The average operation rate of the country’s 20 commercial reactors reached 93.3 percent in 2008, government data shows. The United States and France, both considered the world’s top nuclear energy users, have an operation rate of 89.9 percent and 76.1 percent, respectively.

Copyright 2010 by United Press International

Categorized | Electricity
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