Moon Mi-ok, Science & Technology Advisor to the President, met with Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) CEO Mohamed Al Hammadi in Abu Dhabi on October 30 and they reached an agreement on the necessity of the joint business of South Korea and the UAE in the nuclear power generation markets of third countries such as Saudi Arabia, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry & Energy of Korea.
South Korea and the UAE signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the same purpose in 2015. The IAEA held a ministerial meeting in Abu Dhabi on October 30 and Saudi Arabia announced at the meeting that it would place orders for two commercial nuclear power plants.
South Korea can reduce financing costs if the UAE participates in its projects as a financial investor. The South Korean government is planning to finance approximately 20% of future projects via financial investors. South Korea’s technological strength in the field of nuclear power plant construction is second to none in the world. According to the National Assembly Budget Office, the construction cost of the APR1400 reactor currently under construction in Barakah, UAE is 2.31 million won (US$2,070) per kilowatt. Meanwhile, those of Japan’s advanced boiling water reactor, AP1000 of the United States and EPR of France are 3.65 million won (US$3,200), 6.4 million won (US$5,760) and 5.6 million won (US$5,040), respectively.
South Korean nuclear power plants require much less power generation and operation and management costs, too. According to the IAEA, the power generation cost of the plants is 3.1 cents per kWh whereas those of China, Russia, Japan and France are 3.2 cents, 4.35 cents, 4.97 cents and 5.64 cents, respectively. When it comes to operation and management, the cost is 0.97 cents per kWh, second only to that of China (0.78 cents).
Cooperation with the UAE can be a boon to South Korea’s efforts for financing in future projects. The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) is the second-largest sovereign wealth fund in the world with an asset of 780 trillion won. The UAE is eager to join overseas nuclear power generation projects these days. “The UAE refused to show its nuclear power plant in Barakah earlier but opened it to the public via the ministerial meeting,” the South Korean ministry explained, adding, “This implies the country is confident in its technology.”
Preparations for the international tender for the construction of the two 1.4 GW nuclear power plants in Saudi Arabia are expected to be initiated within this year. The size of the project is estimated at US$20 billion. The Czech Republic is planning to complete the construction of four nuclear power plants before 2040. The country sent Senate President Milan Stech and special envoys to South Korea last month for information on APR1400. Similar projects are forecast to be launched in the near future in South Africa, Turkey, Vietnam, Egypt, India, etc.