At the end of last year, the entire nation reveled in the news that S. Korea won a US$40 billion deal to build four nuclear reactors in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and hailed the first export of Korean-style nuclear power plants in history. S. Korea winning this landmark nuclear deal has triggered so much interest across the political, social, economic spectrum that Korea's President Lee Myung-bak paid special visits to the construction sites of the nuclear power plants in S. Korea and announced "Strategy for exporting S. Korea's nuclear power plants". The presidential announcement to make the nuclear power industry one of S. Korea's new growth engines has further heightened public interest in nuclear-related companies such as the Korea Power Engineering Company (KOPEC), which specializes in designing nuclear power plants.
KOPEC was established in 1975 as a public enterprise to wean S. Korea off its dependence on foreign nuclear power design technologies. KOPEC is an engineering company that boasts world-class technology for designing, engineering, and constructing nuclear and fossil power plants. In particular, KOPEC is the only nuclear power plant designer in the world that is capable of designing core parts of both architect engineering (A/E) and Nuclear Steam Supply Systems (NSSS), and has been serving as the backbone of S. Korea's nuclear power industry.
When KOPEC was created, S. Korea was a complete stranger to designing nuclear power plants. KOPEC officials dispatched its engineers to nuclear powerhouses such as the U.S. and European nations to learn advanced nuclear technology, and went to great lengths to achieve technological independence. As a result, KOPEC succeeded in independently designing nuclear power plants in such a short period of time, and has comprehensively designed a total of 20 nuclear power units in Kori ,Yonggwang, and Ulchin.
Now, KOPEC is building Shin-Kori Units 3 and 4 and Shin-Ulchin Units 1 and 2 - which will be the first APR1400 (the Korean Next Generation Reactor) nuclear power plants. The APR1400 design is the unit that S. Korea put on the table in its bid for the UAE nuclear deal. In other words, all the Korean-style nuclear power plants, whose safety, efficiency and price competitiveness have been recognized internationally, owe their existence to KOPEC's world-class nuclear power plant design technology. KOPEC also took part in the Korean consortium that won the nuclear power deal, issued by the UAE, and KOPEC's nuclear power plant design technology played an instrumental role in the bidding process.
Since its inception, KOPEC has continuously acquired experiences, knowhow, and talent through designing nuclear power plants. In addition, KOPEC's system of managing feedback from previous projects has enabled the optimization of its design process. And by taking advantage of IT, KOPEC achieved 4D design technology that connects designs to construction processes. It was said that KOPEC's expertise and design technology had largely contributed to winning the UAE's confidence in S. Korea's nuclear technology.
Furthermore, KOPEC abides by international safety requirements for designing nuclear power plants, and KOPEC's standardized designs and shortened construction periods have enhanced its price competitiveness to a great degree. The issue of safety and price competitiveness was the deciding factors in the UAE's awarding the multi-billion dollar nuclear contract to S. Korea.
Question and Answer
Q: How did KOPEC's nuclear plant design technologies contribute to S. Korea's winning the UAE nuclear deal
A: Under the S. Korean government's pro-nuclear policy, KOPEC has built nuclear plants on a continuing basis. KOPEC was created with the aim of gaining technological independence in designing nuclear power plants.
Since its inception, KOPEC has invested 10 percent of its sales in R&D projects annually, to improve design technology and standardize design processes.
KOPEC's system to manage feedback from previous projects has helped optimize its design process. And we have continued to develop applicable technology such as 4D design technology that connect design processes to construction ones. In fact, our new technology has been applied to our nuclear power plants design.
In addition, KOPEC's continuous participation in the construction of nuclear power plants over the past 30 years has resulted in the accumulation of ample experiences, knowhow and excellent talent - which makes us one of the world's most competitive nuclear plant design companies.
Whenever the order placers questioned our technological capability in the bidding process for the UAE nuclear deal, we countered with clear-cut explanations on the basis of our technology and knowhow, and got our points across to them, thereby gradually earning their confidence in our technology.
Q: What is KOPEC'S future plan
A: At the end of last month, KOPEC set up a division, solely dedicated to the UAE nuclear project. KOPEC will handpick the best talent with ample experiences and technological capabilities to push ahead with the UAE nuclear project, and will build a company-wide support system in order to get the best design work done.
On top of that, the UAE nuclear project is only the beginning. The S. Korean government, academia and nuclear-related companies including KOPEC have just seen their decades-old efforts and attempts come to fruition.
Now is the time for S. Korea's nuclear technology to expand its presence in the world. KOPEC plans to continue its development of technology and engineering talent in a bid to help open up new horizons for national growth.