"The government will actively support the export of nuclear power plants to ramp up national interests by strictly checking profitability and risk," said Baek Woon-kyu, Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy at the "Nuclear Export Strategic Council" held at the Seoul Trade Center on October 10.
He went on to say, "The government's energy conversion is based on the unique characteristics of the country, such as earthquake risk and the high density of nuclear power plants."
The minister spoke even specifically of plans to support Korean companies’ landing orders for nuclear power plants in the UK, the Czech Republic and Saudi Arabia at the government level. Currently, these countries are moving forward with the construction of nuclear power plants with up to 3GWe (1GWe is the capacity of one nuclear power plant).
The meeting was attended by 17 organizations including the Korea Nuclear Association for International Cooperation, government-run companies doing the nuclear power generation business such as Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEPCO) and the Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP), private companies such as Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction, Hyundai E&C and Daewoo E&C and the Korea Export-Import Bank.
The Korea Nuclear Association for International Cooperation explained through a presentation on the world nuclear power generation market that Russia’s and China’s dominance of the world nuclear power plant market are undermining Korea’s position and emphasized selection and concentration in overseas nuclear power plant projects.
KEPCO and the KHNP emphasized the competitiveness of the Korean nuclear power industry as demonstrated in the export to the UAE case, emphasizing a need for the government, nuclear power industry and financial institutions to jointly respond to the export of nuclear power plants which is like a competition among countries.
Participants in the meeting agreed that they should go ahead with the nuclear power business to dial up national interests by checking the profitability and risk of nuclear power plant exports thoroughly while learning a lesson from management crises of global nuclear companies such as Westinghouse in the US and Areva in France.
Minister Baek said, "As the government plans to support the export of nuclear power plants to the best of its ability, not only state-run nuclear power companies but also all of the 17 organizations attending today should provide optimized order-winning strategies for their business."
Though the government announced that it will continue to promote nuclear power plant exports apart from its nuclear phase-out policies, it is pointed out that the policies do not sit well with the export of nuclear power plants. In other words, even if the government said it will continue nuclear power plant export, which absolutely boosts national interest, in order to deal with the complaints of those who insist on the necessity of nuclear power plant operation, some people are questioning the government’s will. They are also running down the government, saying that Korea’s trial to export nuclear power plants which Korea does not build in its own land any more will inevitably perturb countries which import power plants.
The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy also did not make an official comment on the fact that the EU-APR, the KHNP’s nuclear power plant to export to Europe, passed the main screening for the certification of a business operator in Europe. The day before, KHNP distributed a press release that the EU-APR, which is based on the APR1400, a Korean-style nuclear power plant, and satisfies Europe’s certification requirements, made a splendid achievement by passing the main screening.
Experts point out that the Korean government needs to emphasize the necessity and safety of nuclear power plants even in order to lead countries which will place nuclear power plant orders in the future such as the Czech Republic, South Africa, Saudi Arabia and the UK to have more trust in Korean nuclear power technology. "Korea can gain trust from countries which place nuclear power plant orders only if the Korean government acknowledges a need for nuclear power plants," said Kang Jae-yeol, vice chairman of the Korea Atomic Industrial Forum (KAIF).