Korea’s nuclear phase-out policy to cost $18 bn over 7 years

2023.05.22 09:41:01 | 2023.05.22 11:27:56

Shin Kori 5 and Shin Kori 6 nuclear reactors [Photo by Yonhap]이미지 확대

Shin Kori 5 and Shin Kori 6 nuclear reactors [Photo by Yonhap]

The plan to phase out nuclear power carried out by the former Moon Jae-in administration will cost more than 24 trillion won ($18.1 billion) over the next 7 years, in addition to the 23 trillion won that have already been spent between 2017 and 2022, a report showed Sunday.

The Nuclear Energy Policy Center at Seoul National University said in a report that the nuclear phase-out scheme over the last six years from 2017 to 2022 under the previous government had cost 22.9 trillion won. There will be an additional estimated cost of 24.5 trillion won from 2023 to 2030 due to a ripple effect, bringing the total cost to 47.4 trillion won.

Korea spent 9.6 trillion won as nuclear phase-out cost last year, up from 1.9 trillion won in 2017, 3.7 trillion won in 2018, 3.1 trillion won in 2019, 1.4 trillion won in 2020, and 3.2 trillion won in 2021.

The large-scale spending last year comes as the price of liquefied natural gas (LNG) soared while nuclear settlement unit price fell, resulting in a wide gap between the energy sources.

President Yoon Suk Yeol took office in 2022 and pledged to scrap the nuclear phase-out policy in a presidential campaign. The government expanded nuclear power development in January.

The report, however, expected additional costs worth up to 3 trillion won to incur every year because of the delayed construction of the Shin Kori 5 and Shin Kori 6 nuclear reactors and the suspension of the construction of Cheonji 1 and 2 reactors.

The report said that the phase-out scheme has made the country’s energy mix more expensive, as the government made up for the lack of energy led by the phase-out with more expensive LNG fuel.

“In addition to the energy crisis led by the war in Ukraine, the phase-out policy is blamed for the record losses at Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEPCO) last year,” it said.

KEPCO logged 32.6 trillion won in operating loss in 2022.

“The move has reduced cheap nuclear generation while increasing expensive energy consumption, such as renewable energy,” said Yang Joon-mo, a professor at Yonsei University.

The nuclear phase-out scheme has also led the country‘s nuclear industry to shrink.

“Korea’s nuclear industry is on the verge of a collapse,” the report said. “Sales have shrunk by 41.8 percent over the last five years and the number of related workers fell by 18.2 percent.”

By Song Gwang-sup and Han Yubin

[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]