The UAE project will set the stage to make greater inroads into foreign nuclear power markets
Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEPCO) and other Korean consortium partners are devoting themselves to making the ongoing construction of four nuclear power units in the United Arab Emirates a success, which they hope will set the stage for Korea to make greater inroads into foreign markets with its homegrown technology.
KEPCO officials estimate that the UAE project is so mammoth that it may use up to six times the concrete and four times the steel used in the construction of the world’s tallest building, the 828-meter-high Burj Khalifa, on top of pipes and cables, whose combined lengths are four times and 90 times the 137 km distance between Seoul and Daejeon, respectively.
KEPCO has set its sights on becoming a world-class integrated energy provider by capitalizing on green technology. To this end, the utility strives to build a smart grid, a combination of electricity facilities and IT, while concentrating on the development of low-carbon, power-generation technology and high-performance power transmission technology.
In particular, KEPCO has gained ground in exporting its homegrown nuclear power technology, suggesting the new paradigm for exports, job creation, and exploring resources abroad. Korea won the UAE nuclear power project, outbidding global nuclear powers and exporting its homegrown nuclear power model, about 30 years after the country introduced foreign nuclear power technology. The project calls for the construction of four APR1400 reactors at a cost of $20 billion, the highest-ever export figure. Korea’s possible participation in the operation of the upcoming nuclear power units could yield another $20 billion.
KEPCO’s winning of the landmark deal is owed to the Korean-type reactor model’s competitiveness.
Korea now ranks fifth among nuclear powers with 21 nuclear power units in operation. In awarding the nuclear power project to Korea, the UAE cited the expertise and experience in the construction and operation of nuclear power units Korea has accumulated for the last 30 years. Korea’s strengths include a full organic nuclear power ecosystem lineup ranging from design and construction to management. The UAE consortium consists of Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co. (KHNP), which is versed in the operation and management of nuclear power units; Doosan Heavy Industries and Construction, responsible for the manufacturing of major equipment; and Hyundai E&C and Samsung E&C for the construction of the nuclear power units.
The UAE nuclear power project will be a boon not only to the Korean exporting industry, but also to creating jobs. A report shows that it will have an effect of creating roughly 110,000 jobs by 2020. If the UAE side asks for Korea to add Korean manpower to the operation of the UAE plants, the job-creating effect will likely be greater. For its part, the Korean government plans to aggressively foster human resources through a high school and a college specializing in nuclear power, recognizing that the nuclear power industry could serve as a means to lessen unemployment woes.
KEPCO is devoting itself to achieving the goal of raising the portion of revenues from overseas business from the current 3 percent up to 50 percent in the future.
“The local business sector, which sees tepid growth, is limited in creating new jobs, so there needs be employment created through the exploration of new areas and content overseas,” President Kim Joong-kyum said at a ceremony to launch the 2012 business year at the KEPCO headquarters on Jan. 2 “We aim to enhance the portion of revenues from overseas business from the current 3 percent level to 50 percent,” he said.
President Kim is eager to ramp up KEPCO’s overseas business presence.