The Shin-Hanul-1 nuclear power plant in South Korea began commercial operation on 7 December, making it the 25th nuclear plant in operation in the east Asian nation and marking a major political turnaround in energy policy.
The new unit, a 1,340-MW APR-1400 in the North Gyeongsang Province, will help meet winter energy demands for Korea. It is operated by Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Company (KHNP / KEPCO), state owner and operator of all the country’s nuclear plants.
Former president Moon Jae-in’s policy had been to retire the country’s 24 commercial reactors, which supply 28% of its electricity generation, and refrain from building new ones. Korea's current president Yoon-Suk-Yeo has now reversed this policy.
Korea has reversed the previous president's policy to phase out nuclear power and retire the country's 24 commercial reactors
Korea's current president Yoon Suk-yeol is convinced of the need for South Korea to embrace nuclear energy. He has said building nuclear power plants is a global trend and essential to the reduction of carbon and energy security.
Construction of Shin-Hanul-1 began in July 2012 and it reached first criticality in May. Construction of the identical Shin-Hanul-2 began in June 2013.
President Yoon-Suk-yeol says building nuclear power plants is a global trend and essential to the reduction of carbon and energy security
The APR-1400 technology is the same that South Korea has exported successfully for the four-unit Barakah nuclear power station in the United Arab Emirates.
Seoul is also involved in other major nuclear projects, including plans for new build in the Czech Republic and Poland.
In South Korea there are two APR-1400 units in operation at Shin-Kori-3 and Shin-Kori-4, and four units nearing completion or under construction at Shin-Hanul-1, Shin-Hanul-2, Shin-Kori-5 and Shin-Kori-6.
Seoul is also involved in other major nuclear projects, including plans for new build in the Czech Republic and Poland
According to KHNP, Shin-Hanul-1 is the first power reactor in South Korea to achieve “technological independence” through localisation of core systems including the reactor coolant pump and the plant instrumentation and control system.
Operation of Shin-Hanul-1 comes soon after the South Korean government announced that construction of two more plants at Shin-Hanul could resume in 2025 and an application will be made next year so that Kori-2 can be operated beyond its service life.
Work on Shin-Hanul-3 and Shin-Hanul-4 was halted in 2017 under the nuclear phaseout policy of the previous administration.