South Korea Connects Two New Reactors to the Grid

3. An atomic leap. South Korea is looking to boost nuclear capacity to 43.4% of its total power profile by 2020. Two new reactors became commercially operational this summer, the 960-MW Shin Kori 2 plant near Nae-ri and the Shin Wolsong 1 (shown here) in the southwest city of Gori. Courtesy: Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Co.

Two new nuclear reactors in South Korea became commercially operational this summer, bringing the country’s total nuclear plant count to 23 and expanding the share of its nuclear capacity to 20,716 MW—or more than 25% of its total power capacity. Just a week after South Korea’s Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Co. began commercial operations at its 960-MW Shin Kori 2 in the southwest city of Gori on July 20, it opened its 960-MW Shin-Wolsong 1 reactor near Nae-ri.

The Korea Electric Power Co. (KEPCO) subsidiary’s Shin Kori 2 and Shin Wolsong 1 are both OPR-1000 pressurized water reactors, which evolved from the domestically designed Korean Standard Nuclear Power Plant, an indigenous design developed from Westinghouse System 80 units imported during the 1970s and 1980s. The new reactors are the nation’s 10th and 11th OPR-1000 units.

Construction of Shin-Wolsong Unit 1 (Figure 3) began in October 2005 on the basis of the nation’s second electricity supply master plan (2004–2017). After construction and testing periods of six years and 10 months, it was finally approved for commercial operation. At the Shin Wolsong site, a sister reactor, Shin Wolsong 2, is expected to enter commercial operation in January 2013.

Construction work on Shin Kori 2 started in January 2007, and in January this year it was synchronized to the grid. At Shin-Kori, Units 3 and 4, which are under construction at the site, will be the first of at least nine Generation III+ South Korean–designed APR-1400 reactors (advanced variants of the OPR-1000) that will be built as South Korea expands its nuclear capacity.

South Korea hopes to increase its nuclear capacity to 27.3 GW and supply 43.4% of its demand from nuclear power in 2020, up from the current 25%. By 2030, the government has forecast nuclear power could supply 59% of its power. All planned reactors are third-generation APR-1400s. The first two of that reactor design, Shin-Kori Units 3 and 4, had been expected to be completed between 2013 and 2014, though reports in August pointed to a delay of nearly 10 months.

Amid the new plant openings this July, first concrete was poured for Unit 1 of the Shin Ulchin plant, kicking off construction of another APR-1400. First concrete for the second unit at that site is set to follow in about a year. These $6.2 billion units are being closely watched because, though the existing pair of APR-1400s are already under construction at Shin Kori, the Shin Ulchin reactors will be almost free of intellectual property from Westinghouse, experts say.

—Sonal Patel is POWER’s senior writer.