The number of nuclear reactors will peak at 28 units from 2022, plunge to 18 in 2031 and 14 in 2038 under the South Korean government’s long-term program to phase out of nuclear power by stopping licensing operation of old reactors beyond their original life and building new ones.
Under a new energy roadmap designed to wean the country off nuclear power and increase sourcing from safer and cleaner renewables, the Shin Kori 6 and 7 will be the last new reactors to be built in Korea, said industry and energy minister Paik Un-gyu in a press conference Tuesday.
The roadmap was announced after the government complied with a recommendation from a civilian-led panel that voted for resumption in the construction of the two reactors that had been suspended in July to canvass public opinion on whether to continue with the building despite the government’s phase-out policy.
“We will phase out by barring extension in reactor life beyond original design. We will shutter Wolsong 1 reactor after studying supply and demand conditions,” he said.
The government in June permanently unplugged the oldest reactor Kori 1. The second-oldest Wolsong 1 in 2012 gained state authority license to extend life by another 10 years after refurbishment work. Earlier nuclear reactors were originally built with lifespan of 30 years, but can be extended through refurbishment. Reactors built in recent years are designed to operate up to 60 years.
Such action will bring the number of reactors to 28 in 2022 from current 24 as three are nearly finished and two in Shin Kori will be complete by then. Once reactors shutter one by one after they reach original design life, the reactor family will be reduced to 18 in 2031 and 14 in 2038.
To ensure stability in power supply, the government will up generation from renewable energy to 20 percent by 2030 from current 7 percent.
Opponents claimed the earlier-than-scheduled shutdown of Wolsong reactor could cause as big economic cost as stopping and dismantling the Shin Kori 5 and 6 whose construction had already been 30 percent completed.
“If Wolsong is closed down five years ahead of its licensed life until 2022, its operator Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co. (KHNP) would have to shoulder a loss of 1.5 trillion won ($1.3 billion),” Liberty Korea Party Rep. Kwak Dae-hoon said during a parliamentary hearing on government offices. The industry estimated it would have cost 1.6 trillion won to dismantle the facilities in Shin Kori 5 and 6 sites.
Six state utility firms including KHNP, Korea South-East Power and Korea Midland Power vowed to invest 45.5 trillion won to equip infrastructure with 33,000 megawatts power supply by 2030, according to data released by Democratic Party Rep. Park Jeung.
By Ko Jae-man, Seok Min-soo and Lee Ha-yeon
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]