Three nuclear reactors under construction in the Eastern Hemisphere reached major milestones over the past few months. South Korea’s Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Co. connected its 960-MW Shin-Wolsong 1 reactor near Nae-ri to the grid on Jan. 27 and, a day later, its sister plant, the 960-MW Shin Kori 2 (Figure 5) in the southwest city of Gori. Both units are expected to become commercially operational this summer. And last December, Russia began commercial operation of its 950-MW Kalinin 4 plant, a V-320 model VVER 1000.

5. New reactors. In January, Korea Electric Power Co. (KEPCO) subsidiary Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Co. grid connected the 960-MW Shin Kori 2 plant shown here and sister plant Shin Wolsong 1 in the southwest city of Gori. Shin-Kori Units 3 and 4, which are also under construction at the site, are the first of at least nine Generation III+ South Korean–designed APR-1400 reactors that will be built as South Korea expands its nuclear capacity. Courtesy: KEPCO

The Korea Electric Power Co. (KEPCO) subsidiary’s plants are OPR-1000 pressurized water reactors (PWRs), which evolved from the domestically designed Korean Standard Nuclear Power Plant. South Korea has 23 operating reactors, some of the first PWRs of Westinghouse, Framatome (now AREVA), and CANDU designs. Seven OPR-1000 reactors went online between 1998 and 2011. Shin Kori 2, Shin Wolsong 1, and Shin Wolsong 2, also OPR-1000s, are expected to start commercial operation between midyear 2012 and September 2013.

Three new reactors are under construction, and six are being planned. South Korea hopes to increase its nuclear capacity to 27.3 GW and supply 43.4% of its capacity through nuclear power, up from the current 34.6%. 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 designs are being built at Shin-Kori Units 3 and 4 and should be completed between 2013 and 2014.

The new Russian plant has a longer history. Work on Russia’s Kalinin 4 began in 1986 but stalled in 1991 when the plant was barely 20% complete. The plant is expected to provide power for the Tver region. Russia sources 17% of its power from 33 nuclear plants, but it has 10 projects under construction on Russian soil and at least 21 units under construction in other countries.

In related news, Russia this January completed the first phase of a centralized “dry” interim storage facility at Zheleznogorsk, near Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, where it plans to store 8,129 metric tons of used fuel from its RBMK-1000 Leningrad, Kursk, and Smolensk plants and VVER-1000 Balakovo, Kalinin, Novovoronezh, and Rostov plants. The first phase of the facility is expected to be full to capacity within eight to 10 years. The complete interim storage facility will ultimately store 38,000 metric tons of fuel for at least 50 years. Media reports say that Russia, a country that reprocesses about 16% of its used fuel, has plans to reprocess all its used fuel by 2020.

Russia’s nuclear plans also reportedly include privatizing Rosatom—the massive state-owned entity that oversees the country’s nuclear power, engineering, and research enterprises—as part of a modernization effort. In particular, the firm’s civil nuclear assets—its nuclear fuel, reactor technology, supply chain, power plant operation, services, and waste management—could become public liability companies with shares that will be sold off. The proposal by Vladimir Putin, who was recently reelected as Russia’s president (after serving the maximum two terms as president from 2000 to 2008), seeks to curb corruption and improve the legal and investment environment.

—Sonal Patel is POWER’s senior writer.