Does the UK's nuclear decommissioning expertise coupled with South Korea's Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) technologies, experience and available cash hold the key for re-igniting the UK's Nuclear New Build (NNB) programme?
In recent days it has been announced that the UK and South Korea have signed a memorandum of understanding regarding the collaboration of resources to support NNB and nuclear decommissioning works going forward.
There are lots of points to consider regarding this collaboration but the key points and headlines to the who deal are that the UK can provide help with South Korea who have entered into a decommissioning era in nuclear during 2017 following a change in government whilst South Korea will return the favour by supporting the planned UK NNB's.
What does the UK bring to the deal?
With nuclear activities being undertaken since the 1950's South Korea currently have 25 reactors producing around 31% of the countries power. However, with a new government in place from May 2017 a policy to phase-out nuclear power production over a 40 year period is being implemented. This decision has met much resistance from both domestic and foreign world authorities.
Regardless of the reasonings, justifications and opinions surrounding the new nuclear decommissioning era that South Korea are undertaking this no doubt brings about an opportunity for the UK to provide support by the means of expertise, technologies and experience. This is something that Greg Clark, UK BEIS secretary of state has been quick to act upon with the signing of the memorandum of understanding. To support this the NAMRC (Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre) has been undertaking a study of the nuclear decommissioning sectors in both the UK and South Korea which they are due to publish shortly. The aim of this report is to highlight the roles of the already established nuclear decommissioning supply chain in South Korea.
To add to this the UK also bring one of the worlds largest NNB programmes which is running in parallel to the existing South Korean NNB international projects, most notably in the UAE.
What does South Korea bring to the deal?
South Korea has over 40 years experience of operating NNP's to bring to the table as well as nuclear energy technologies, clearly of most interest being the Generation III Advanced Pressurised Reactor-1400 (APR1400) which is a proven technology which has been adapted for the European market in the guise of APR1400-EUR.
This experience and technology has already made its way into speculation since the Kepco (Korean Electric Power Corporation) statement that they are considering taking a stake in NuGen who are lined up to deliver the Moorside NNB up in Cumbria using the Westinghouse AP-1000 design. With to the issues with Westinghouse and the apparent shelving of the AP-1000 it is clearly a feasible solution to utilise the APR1400 if Kepco do chose to invest.
Want to find out more?
We've kept this overview very brief to pick up the key points. If you have any further questions or would like us to go into more details please let us know.