Country profile: Republic of Korea

Summary figures for 2012

The following information is from the NEA publication Nuclear Energy Data, the annual compilation of official statistics and country reports on nuclear energy in OECD member countries.

Number of nuclear power plants connected to the grid
Nuclear electricity generation
(net TWh) 2012
Nuclear percentage of total electricity supply
Republic of Korea
OECD Pacific
1 884.0

* Provisional data

Country report

General energy policy

The Korean government is placing the first priority on securing nuclear safety in the utilisation and development of nuclear energy and appropriate measures have been taken to improve the emergency response of operating nuclear power plants against unexpected natural disasters following safety reviews in 2011.

At the moment, the government is preparing for its second National Energy Master Plan, aiming for release in 2013. According to the plan, nuclear power is expected to play a continuously vital role in the future national energy mix along with the expansion of renewable energy.

Nuclear energy

As of December 2012, 23 nuclear power plants were in operation including Shin-Kori unit 2 and Shin- Wolsong unit 1, each with an installed capacity of 1 000 MWe, that were recently connected to the grid (July 2012). Five more units under construction are planned to be completed by 2016. Nuclear power plants are producing 20 716 MWe nationwide, accounting for 34.8% of total electricity generation (gross).

Kori unit 1, the oldest reactor in the Republic of Korea, remains in operation after permission was granted to continue operating in 2008. Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP), the operator of Wolsong unit 1, submitted an application for licence renewal in December 2009, as the original 30-year design life of the reactor expired in November 2012. The application is still under examination.

In addition to the 23 reactors in operation, the Republic of Korea has five units under construction, four units in the stage of construction preparation, and two units being planned. The plants under construction are Shin-Wolsong unit 2 (OPR 1000), Shin-Kori unit 3 and 4 (APR 1400), and Shin-Ulchin unit 1 and 2 (APR 1400). Shin-Kori units 5 and 6 (APR 1400), and Shin-Ulchin units 3 and 4 (APR 400) are in the preparation phase. Construction of Shin-Kori units 7 and 8 is planned.

According to the national energy plan established in 2008, government policy has been set to increase the share of nuclear power generation in the national grid to as much as 41% by 2030. Despite the aftermath of the Fukushima Daiichi accident, there has been no change in nuclear energy policy. Since two or three sites are additionally needed to meet policy requirements, the government has decided to bring this issue to the public domain and select sites in a transparent fashion.

National research and development (R&D)

The government is carrying out mid- and long-term R&D plans focused on the future nuclear energy system as well as nuclear safety and applications of radiation technology together with the development of advanced nuclear power reactors.

The Nuclear Safety and Security Commission (NSSC) granted a standard design approval (SDA) to the SMART (system-integrated modular advanced reactor) in July 2012, which will greatly contribute to the diverse applications of nuclear power using SMRs (small modular reactors) for human welfare.

Safety review on nuclear power plants

After the Fukushima Daiichi accident, the Korean government conducted a safety vulnerability assessment of nuclear power plants by reviewing the safety and emergency preparedness of its nuclear power plants in operation and has continuously implemented the identified short- and long-term measures for improving their safety.

Furthermore, as the need to enhance the field of focused inspection was identified, the NSSC and Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety (KINS) established a resident inspection team for each nuclear power plant site in April 2012. Each team consists of six to eight residential inspectors that conduct the field inspection in a more in-depth way by giving priority to strengthening verification of safety on a real time basis. Additionally, the inspectors from each field such as nuclear, site safety, I&C, material and radiation have performed ordinary and periodic inspections in co-operation.

Radioactive waste management

The Atomic Energy Promotion Commission deliberated and announced plans for "key technology development for decommissioning of nuclear installations" and "safe management of spent nuclear fuel" in November 2012. Under these plans, the government and public sector are currently discussing the national policy on nuclear facilities and spent fuels with a long-term perspective.

After a 20-year effort to find a site for a radioactive waste disposal facility, Wolsong was designated as the final candidate site for disposal of the low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste (LILW) in November 2005. The Wolsong LILW Disposal Centre (WLDC) is under construction, with the first stage of construction to be completed by June 2014 with an initial capacity of 100 000 drums (35 200 m3). After a stepwise expansion, the final disposal capacity will be increased to hold 800 000 drums. The basic plan for the second stage of construction of the disposal centre was established in 2011. The WLDC started operation of surface facilities in December 2010 and 2 536 drums of LILW had been moved to the WLDC for permanent disposal by the end of December 2012.

Source: Nuclear Energy Data 2013

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Last reviewed: 11 December 2013