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South Korea / Shin-Hanul-1 Begins Commercial Operation As Country Returns To Nuclear

By David Dalton
8 December 2022

Construction of two more plants at same site could resume in 2025
Shin-Hanul-1 Begins Commercial Operation As Country Returns To Nuclear
The Shin-Hanul nuclear power station in South Korea could eventually have four units. Courtesy IAEA.
The Shin-Hanul-1 nuclear power plant in South Korea began commercial operation on Wednesday (7 December), making it the 25th nuclear plant in operation in the east Asian nation and marking a major political turnaround in energy policy.

Press reports in South Korea quoted Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Company (KHNP), state owner and operator of all the country’s nuclear plants, as saying the indigenous 1,340-MW APR-1400 would help meet the country’s winter energy demand.

Operation of the plant, in North Gyeongsang Province in the east of the country, symbolises president Yoon Suk-yeol’s reversal of his predecessor’s policy to phase out nuclear power, the Korea Joong Ang Daily reported.

Former president Moon Jae-in’s policy had been to retire the country’s 24 commercial reactors, which supply about 30% of its electricity generation, and refrain from building new ones.

By contrast, Yoon is bullish on the need for South Korea to embrace nuclear energy. He has said building nuclear power plants is a global trend and essential to the reduction of carbon and energy security.

Construction of Shin-Hanul-1 began in July 2012 and it reached first criticality in May. Construction of the identical Shin-Hanul-2 began in June 2013.

Project For Two More Reactors Could Resume

The APR-1400 technology is the same that South Korea has exported successfully for the four-unit Barakah nuclear power station in the United Arab Emirates.

Seoul is also involved in tenders for other major nuclear projects, including plans for new build in the Czech Republic and Poland.

In South Korea there are two APR-1400 units in operation at Shin-Kori-3 and Shin-Kori-4, and four units nearing completion or under construction at Shin-Hanul-1, Shin-Hanul-2, Shin-Kori-5 and Shin-Kori-6.

KHNP noted Shin-Hanul-1 is the first power reactor in South Korea to achieve “technological independence” through localisation of core systems including the reactor coolant pump and the plant instrumentation and control system.

Operation of Shin-Hanul-1 comes soon after the South Korean government announced that construction of two more plants at Shin-Hanul could resume in 2025 and an application will be made next year so that Kori-2 can be operated beyond its service life.

Work on Shin-Hanul-3 and Shin-Hanul-4 was halted in 2017 under the nuclear phaseout policy of the previous administration.

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