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More funds to be committed to nuclear industry revival

More money will be committed to nuclear energy as the current government seeks to revive an industry greatly weakened by the previous government.

It is committing 130.6 billion won ($99.8 million) this year, up from the previously announced 92.5 billion won.

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy on Wednesday signed an agreement with Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co., Doosan Enerbility and nuclear energy construction material suppliers to restore the country’s nuclear power generation capacity.

“The government will provide full support for revitalizing the nuclear energy industry and raising its competitiveness,” Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy Lee Chang-yang said. “The goal is to improve the competitiveness.”

Last month, the government started the environmental impact assessment for the construction of Shin Hanul reactors 3 and 4 in Uljin. The goal is to start the construction in 2024.

Preproduction orders will be signed off this year as the government seeks to accelerate the process.

The construction of the two reactors was suspended under the Moon Jae-in government, which pushed for phasing out nuclear energy citing safety concerns.

R&D by SMEs on nuclear energy will receive 21.5 billion won of funding, while the government is reviewing 60 companies for 100 billion won of government-backed loans.

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, the Ministry of Science and ICT and the state-owned KHNP are funding 670 billion won this year for R&D projects.

Next week, a committee of government departments, Korea Electric Power Corp., the state-owned nuclear company, financial companies and private sector companies specializing in exporting Korea’s nuclear power capabilities will be formed.

The goal of the committee is to help in the sale of 10 overseas reactor projects by 2030.

Lee promised to turn Changwon into a “nuclear energy cluster.”

“If designated, there will be a lot of beneficial support, including R&D, subsidies for regional investments and tax benefits,” Lee said. “We plan to supply 1 trillion-won of orders for power-plant related materials for nuclear energy companies in Changwon region.”

Busan and Ulsan have been designated as the key industrial complexes specializing in nuclear energy.

The Radiation Medicine and Science Industrial Complex in Gijang county, Busan, broke ground in October and is scheduled for completion in December. The Energy Convergence Industrial Complex in Ulsan was completed in 2020 after three years of construction.

The South Gyeongsang local government may apply to designate Changwon as a nuclear energy industrial complex.

In June, President Yoon visited Changwon, where Doosan Enerbility is headquartered. During his visit, Yoon promised to reverse the nuclear energy policies that were implemented by his predecessor.

The government plans to raise the ratio of nuclear energy in the nation’s energy mix to 30 percent by 2030. Under the Moon Jae-in government, which championed the phasing out of nuclear energy, the figure would have been reduced to 24 percent.

Last year, the nuclear energy ratio was 27.4 percent.

Source: Korea JoongAng Daily