Nuclear power generation has come into focus as a way to implement the government's Low Carbon, Green Growth vision. In 2008, the amount of carbon emissions from Korea's nuclear power generation decreased by about 100 million tons compared with fossil fuels. The government decided to stress the need for nuclear power generation and increase the portion of such power generation by building more nuclear power plants.
Korea has been recognized for its outstanding operation of nuclear power plants over the past three decades. The country's nuclear facility utilization rate in 2008 stood at 93.29 percent, far higher than the world average of 79.36 percent - even higher than those of France and Japan. Furthermore, nuclear power plants in Korea have been safely operated over the past decades, with no serious incidents or accidents that were at level 3 or above on the international nuclear event scale (INES) of 1 to 7, the International Atomic Energy Agency's measurement of operational safety.
In a recent interview with the Korea IT Times, Kim Jong-shin, president and CEO of Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Co., Ltd. (KHNP), discussed his company's plan to contribute to the government's Low Carbon, Green Growth policy implementation and the country's efforts to overcome the current economic difficulties.
He said: “We'll be in emergency management mode to reinforce our system to join the government's efforts to overcome the current economic difficulties and improve people's livelihood.” The KHNP will increase investments by 41 percent in 2009 year-on-year to contribute to galvanizing the national economy and spend 61 percent of his company's budget during the first half of the year, he added.
“The government has announced Energy Vision 2030 which envisages increasing the ratio of nuclear power generation to 59 percent and new renewable energies to 11 percent by 2030,” he said. “Nuclear power generation is the best alternative under the Low Carbon, Green Growth policy. We'll proactively join the government's efforts to increase the nuclear power capacity and the ratio of new renewable energies.”
He reiterated the importance of securing as much carbon emissions rights as possible by making the most of the existing available resources in the sector of new renewable energies. He said the KHNP is determined to create a huge amount of value added in cooperation with Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEPCO).
Commenting on the development of a large-capacity reactor, he said the KHNP plans to develop a reactor with a capacity of more than 1.5 million kilowatts that is safer and more economically efficient by 2012 -- three years ahead of its original schedule. The company will export its own reactor overseas after obtaining an American Standard Design certificate. This new type of reactor is expected to become commercially operational around 2022.
"In addition, if the KHNP succeeds in producing a reactor coolant pump (RCP), a key component of a nuclear reactor, with its own technology, its import substitution effect will likely be worth approximately 675 billion won (US$526.5 million) per unit. The KHNP will also focus on developing man-machine interface systems (MMIS) on its own and apply them to New Gori Nuclear Power Plant Nos. 3 and 4 which will be dedicated in 2014", he said.
He went on to say: “Our company will also invest proactively in the sector of new renewable energies and eventually try to secure as much carbon emissions rights as possible based on such investments.” Enforcement of regulations on greenhouse gas emissions is expected to be intensified in accordance with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Under these circumstances, the “KHNP will increase the power generation capacity of new renewable energies from the current 535 MW to 1,400 MW by 2015,” he added.