The government has joined forces with industry and financial circles to expedite Korea’s nuclear power plant exports overseas.
Second Vice Minister Woo Tae-hee of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) presided over the inaugural session of the Nuclear Power Export Consultation Committee at the Seoul Palace Hotel on Feb. 3. The committee has been established to combine capabilities from institutions related to the nation’s exporting of nuclear power plants to foreign countries. It consists of 17 member companies and institutions, including Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEPCO), Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP), export loan institutions, policy finance providers, equipment and component makers, and contractors.
Nuclear power plant exports are a comprehensive package of projects ranging from design and construction to financing and equipment components procurements.
In this regard, the MOTIE plans to let the Nuclear Power Export Consultative Committee diagnose the conditions of countries that solicit bids for nuclear power plants and draw strategies tailored to meet each country’s needs.
Chairman Kim In-sik of the Korea Nuclear Association for International Cooperation (KNA) said, “Global players has built up a competitive edge by forging strategic alliances.” He added that it is essential to work out strategies to land tenders from such major countries as the Czech Republic, South America and the United Kingdom.
KEPCO Senior Executive Vice President Ryu Hang-ryul said Korea’s export credit agency’s role is important since each nuclear power construction project costs a huge money ranging from $15 billion to $30 billion, and investment collection period ranges from 14 years to 18 years. In an effort to enhance the competitiveness of Korean nuclear power exports, he said, a capital in the Korean export credit agency should be raised on top of the strengthening of loans from policy financing institutions and ECA and commercial banks’ participation.
Several countries around the world plan to build nuclear power units. The Czech Republic is seeking to construct a 1GW-class nuclear power plant by 2032 while South Africa plans to build a 9.6GW-class nuclear power plant by 2030. The United Kingdom has established a plan to build 3.6GW-class nuclear power plants. MOTIE Vice Minister Woo said the winning of bids on overseas nuclear power involves a comprehensive package of industry and financing support to countries soliciting bids for nuclear power units on top of technological prowess, and the Nuclear Power Export Consultative Committee will discuss ways of providing industry cooperation to each country and securing money through alliances with advanced countries, he added.
KEPCO Might be in Position to Land British Nuclear Power Project
A consortium of NuGen, responsible for the nuclear power project, has requested KEPCO’s participation in the project to build the Moorside Nuclear Power Station in northwest of the United Kingdom.
NuGen is to build three AP1000 nuclear reactors on a site near Sellafield, in Cumbria by 2025. The price tag is 15 billion pounds (about 21 trillion won).
NuGen, a U.K. joint venture between Toshiba and ENGIE, has been working on the project since it was awarded the project from the British government. But a variable has developed in the project as Toshiba, which has a 60 percent stake in NeGen, is considering withdrawing from the nuclear power business. Toshiba has suffered 7 trillion won in losses.
There is a high probability that Toshiba will give up on the British project. Now the British side is said to be considering KEPCO as a strong contender to replace Toshiba. If KEPCO’s participation in the British project is confirmed, it will be the second time Korea would land an overseas nuclear power project, and eight years after the nation won an order for a nuclear power project from the United Arab Emirates.
Since 2006, Toshiba has been a powerhouse in the global nuclear power market, along with GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, Areva/EDF and Russia’s Rosatom. Toshiba’s acquisition of Westinghouse is not a boon to the Japanese company, however.
Toshiba’s orders for the construction of four nuclear power units in Georgia and South Carolina have been on hold for four years, incurring snowballing losses. To make matters worse, the AP1000, a third-generation nuclear reactor developed by Westinghouse, has required a longer construction period than expected, incurring additional costs, on top of those on stricter safety regulations. Toshiba also suffered huge losses in the course of acquiring Stone & Webster, an American nuclear power engineering company. Japanese reports said Toshiba’s losses in the nuclear power business stood at an estimated 700 billion yen (7.1 trillion won).