An increasing number of South Korean nuclear power plant component manufacturers are giving up on their Korea Electric Power Industry Code (KEPIC) certification with the South Korean government insisting on its nuclear phase-out policy.
In general, it takes about 100 million won every three years for a nuclear power plant component supplier to maintain its KEPIC certification. It is given only to companies comprehensively capable of component design, production, installation, construction, operation, repair and maintenance so that high facility quality can be ensured from the beginning. This means the nuclear power plant industry has a very high entry barrier and those companies are almost irreplaceable. However, the companies are giving up on their component supply business in order to survive and South Korea’s nuclear power industry is now on the verge of collapse.
Concerns have been expressed since October 2017, when the government announced the policy. The government has reiterated that there will be no nuclear power plant repair and maintenance problems because component suppliers are still there. What is actually occurring now is opposite to what it said. Once the ecosystem of the industry collapses, imported components are the only option, and then problems will arise with regard to cost, safety, delivery, repair and maintenance schedule.
Besides, such components will have to be imported from a very small number of countries, including the United States and France. Needless to say, nuclear power plant repair and maintenance based on imported components will cost much more than that based on domestically supplied ones.
“A collapsed ecosystem will lead to serious problems with little possibility of restoration,” said professor Sung Poong-hyun at the Department of Nuclear & Quantum Engineering of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, adding, “The government needs to change its policy so that, for example, the construction of Shin-hanul Nuclear Power Plant Units 1 and 2 can be resumed and South Korean companies can continue with their business in overseas power plant construction markets.”