Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEPCO) has been selected as the preferred bidder to acquire a British government project to build the Moorside Nuclear Power Station from Toshiba.
The NuGen project by NuGeneration, which is the British subsidiary of Toshiba-owned Westinghouse Electric Company, calls for the construction of three nuclear power units with a combined capacity of 3.8GW at the Moorside site on the coast of Cumbria, northwest England, by 2020.
KEPCO outbid China General Nuclear Power Corp. (CGN) in a bid to acquire the project, wholly owned by Toshiba.
Despite the new Korean government’s policy of weaning Korea off nuclear power, KEPCO’s technology overpowered China’s drive to strengthen its presence in the global power industry. KEPCO plans to employ the homegrown APR 1400 reactor model, similar to the nuclear power units being built in the United Arab Emirates by the Korean utilities company, while building the Moorside Nuclear Power Station.
KEPCO’s UAE project receives construction costs from the UAE. But the Moorside project takes a different format: It raises 15 billion pounds (21 trillion won) to finance the project and recouping investments by selling electricity after completing it. KEPCO plans to form a consortium to raise the funds. If and when negotiations go through, a deal to acquire the project is expected to be signed in the first half of 2018. It’s a watershed moment for the Korean nuclear power industry as KEPCO won the bid for the Moorside project despite the Korean government’s policy of weaning itself off nuclear power.
Prof. Hwang Il-soon of Seoul National University’s Nuclear Engineering Department said, “It’s significant now that an advanced country (UK) has recognized the Korean nuclear industry’s competitive edge. Korean industry experts share the view that the government needs to reconsider its anti-nuclear policy to retain the Korean nuclear power industry’s ecosystem.”
If and when Korea is confirmed as the final bidder of the NuGen project, Korea’s nuclear power technology exports will get a major boost, which have been struggling to win new orders for eight years after the nation won the UAE project.
Prof. Chung Bum-jin of Kyung Hee University said gaining recognition from an advanced country reflects the fact that Korea can now export nuclear power to any country.
Currently, 59 nuclear power units are under construction globally. The global nuclear power market has 160 nuclear power units in various stages of procurement and planning, as well as 378 units in the study stage.
The value of the global nuclear power market is forecast to amount to 600 trillion won in the next 30 years. Globally, 31 countries have introduced nuclear power. Only six countries have their own export nuclear power models. The six are the United States, France, Japan, Russia, China and Korea.
Korea is now seeking to bid for orders from the Czech Republic and Saudi Arabia.
The Korean nuclear power industry has a competitive edge with on-time and on-budget strategies. The average construction period of 6,000 nuclear power units now in operation around the world stands at 82.5 months, longer than the 54 months for the Bakarah nuclear power plant in the UAE.
The price tag of a Korean nuclear power unit is $1,556 per kW, lower than $2,993 for Russia and $1,763 for China. Korea’s capacity ratio for efficiency stands at 86.4 percent, nearly 10 percentage points higher than the global average of 77.8 percent.
The global unit stoppage ratio for breakdowns averages 5.9 percent, much higher than Korea’s 1.1 percent. The Korean APR 1400 model, being built in the UAE, has already passed a safety test in the United States and Europe, considered to be the most stringent screening process.
Becoming the preferred bidder in the U.K. didn’t come easily for KEPCO. In the early stage of bidding, the U.K. favored Korea since Korea had experienced no nuclear accidents while operating its power units for about 40 years, and the country has been awarded with the UAE nuclear power project. But Korea was faced with a crisis when China jumped into the bidding and the Korean government announced anti-nuclear policies in return for favoring new and renewable energy.