Country profile: Republic of Korea

Summary figures for 2013

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.

Country
Number of nuclear power plants connected to the grid
Nuclear electricity generation
(net TWh) 2013
Nuclear percentage of total electricity supply
Republic of Korea
23
138.8
*
27.0
 
OECD Pacific
71
152.7
9.5
 
Total
325
1 883.2
18.6
 

* Provisional data

Country report

General energy policy

The Korean government announced the second National Energy Basic Plan (2013-2035) in 2013, reflecting changed circumstances through a public-private alliance. This plan sets the main goals of demand management, distributed power generation, energy sustainability, energy security and public acceptance. After inter-agency co-ordination, the plan was passed at a Cabinet meeting on 14 January 2014, which was presided over by the Prime Minister.

The plan estimated that the total energy and electricity consumption will continue to increase annually at an average of 0.9% and 2.5%, respectively, until 2035, and that the government is expected to keep the share of nuclear power at around 29% of the total generation capacity. Renewable energy is set at 11% as originally intended in the first National Energy Basic Plan and the share of electricity produced by natural gas is projected to increase.

Nuclear energy

The Republic of Korea's 23 operating reactors, comprising of 19 pressurised water reactors and 4 CANDU pressurised heavy water reactors, had a total gross capacity of 20.7 GWe as of 31 December 2013, accounting for 27% of the nation's total electricity generation. Five additional units are under construction and four units are being prepared for construction.

According to the second National Energy Basic Plan, the share of nuclear power generation in the national grid is to be decreased to 29% from the 41% set out in the first plan in 2008. Despite this decrease in future installed capacity, it is higher than the current share. Ongoing construction will proceed as planned and Shin-Kori unit 3, the first APR-1400 model in the Republic of Korea, is scheduled to start commercial operation in September 2014. All nine new reactors (under construction and planned) are scheduled to be completed by 2022.

R&D

The government is preparing mid- and long-term R&D plans that focus not only on future nuclear energy system, but also on nuclear safety and applications of radiation technology together with the development of advanced nuclear power reactors.

The government laid the groundwork for leading the OECD/NEA international joint collaboration project "OECD-ATLAS", where 12-15 countries from around the world will participate by using the ATLAS facility at the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI). This project will deal with nuclear safety issues, highlighted following the Fukushima Daiichi accident. In particular, it will experimentally verify passive safety systems to further improve nuclear safety.

The government is also focusing its efforts on developing decontamination and decommissioning technologies in preparation for future decommissioning demands both at home and abroad.

Status of NPPs

As Shin Kori unit 2 (OPR-1000) and Shin Wolsong unit 1 (OPR-1000) started commercial operation in July 2012, the Republic of Korea now has 23 nuclear power plants in commercial operation (6 units at Kori, 6 units at Hanbit, 5 units at Wolsong and 6 units at Hanul) with a total installed capacity of 20 716 MWe.

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

In addition, the Republic of Korea has five units under construction, four units in a construction preparation phase 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 Hanul unit 1 and 2 (APR-1400). Shin Kori unit 5 and 6 (APR-1400), and Shin Hanul unit 3 and 4 (APR-1400) are in the construction preparation phase.

Restructuring of the national framework for nuclear safety regulation

Following the inauguration of the new government and subsequent restructuring of government organisations in February 2013, the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission (NSSC) now reports directly to the Prime Minister's Office. Accordingly, relevant laws and regulations were amended to reflect the changes under the new government organisations.

Radioactive waste management

While the Wolsong LILW Disposal Centre (WLDC) is scheduled for completion in June 2014, further progress was made in the area of spent nuclear fuel management policy making in the Republic of Korea, with the start-up of the Public Engagement Commission on Spent Nuclear Fuel Management (PECOS) in October 2013. PECOS, consisting of 15 commissioners (composed of experts in human and social science, engineering and representatives that were recommended by non-governmental organisations and residents in NPP areas), will submit the final report of their recommendations to the government next year after in-depth discussions and reviews on spent nuclear fuel management options.

Based on the results of public engagement, the government will establish a master plan for radioactive waste management. PECOS, independent of the government, will focus on reaching consent-based decisions by gathering the opinions of stakeholders. As the first stage of public engagement, PECOS will study the domestic and overseas situation to enhance understanding of spent nuclear fuel management and hold meetings with various groups to listen to diverse viewpoints. In addition, the 2014 FSC National Workshop and community visit will be held in the Republic of Korea and will be hosted by the Korea Radioactive Waste Agency (KORAD).

Bilateral agreements

In October 2013, the Republic of Korea signed intergovernmental co-operation agreements on peaceful uses of nuclear energy with Finland and Hungary, and ratified its agreement with the Mexican government in July 2013.

Source: Nuclear Energy Data 2014

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Last reviewed: 12 December 2014