Nuclear Pwer Progress
My Brilliant Korea15 March 2004
Korea's highly successful nuclear plant construction programme, which has now culminated in the System 80+ based APR1400, is founded on standardisation and replication. Design change is incremental and highly disciplined.
riven by sustained economic growth and recognising the need for energy diversity and
security, the Republic of Korea has one of the most impressive nuclear power plant construction programmes in the world. Since the mid-1990s, Korea has placed approximately one new nuclear plant into commercial operation each year, all of them owned and operated by the Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power (KHNP) company.
Korea presently has 18 nuclear units in
operation (12 based on Westinghouse technology), two under construction, four in the early design stage (Shin Kori 1 & 2 and Shin Wolsong 1 & 2) and two in the pre-contract stage (Shin Kori 3 & 4).
As shown in Figure 1, Korea will maintain a balanced energy mix while increasing its
reliance on clean nuclear power as energy demand continues to grow in the coming decades.
Achieving self reliance
In the mid 1980s the Korean nuclear industry embarked on two broad initiatives: a national plan to standardise the design of nuclear power plants; and a programme to achieve technological self-reliance.
In 1987, the Korean nuclear industry and Westinghouse entered a ten-year comprehensive technology transfer programme designed to meet the goals of achieving technical
self-reliance. A new ten-year extended and
expanded licence agreement was signed in 1997. The comprehensive technology transfer programme encompasses plant design,
engineering, and manufacturing methodologies as well as a broad scope of research and development activities.
This licensing programme, along with related agreements between Korean nuclear power related companies and Westinghouse, provides the Korean nuclear industry with both broad and in-depth technical knowledge and experience.
Also in 1987, the Korean nuclear industry
selected the Westinghouse (formerly ABB-CE) System 80+ PWR nuclear steam supply system (NSSS) as the basis for standardising the
design of nuclear power plants. Yonggwang (YGN) nuclear units 3 & 4 were the first plants to use the System 80+ design, achieving commercial operation in the mid 1990s. They are among the best performing plants in the world and achieved lifetime capacity factors in
excess of 90%.
Ulchin (UCN) units 3 & 4, the first Korean Standard Nuclear Power Plant (KSNP) units, achieved commercial operation in 1998 and 1999 and are the model for all subsequent 1000 MWe class plants in the Republic of Korea. These are among the most modern plants in the world and, since achieving
commercial operation, these units have maintained availability factors greater than 87%. The evolution of the Korean nuclear power programme is shown in Figure 2.
It is significant that, as new plant construction proceeds, each successive plant design incorporates the latest industry standards and regulatory criteria, enhancing plant operations and safety. Advanced design features that improve the safety and/or performance are incrementally incorporated in each succeeding project, assuring good performance with
minimal risk. This step-by-step approach to
reactor development is shown in Figure 3.
In addition to safe and economic plant operations, the KSNP programme has demonstrated the benefits of plant design standardisation on plant construction schedule and hence the overall plant costs. As shown in Figure 4, the period from first concrete to commercial operation has decreased from 64 months for YGN unit 3 to 55 months for UCN 5.
The next step
Having gained technical self-reliance with the KSNP design, the Korean nuclear industry has now moved on to the "next generation", with development of the APR (Advanced Power Reactor) 1400. The APR1400 is based on Westinghouse System 80+ technology and
includes a 4000 MWt NSSS capable of generating 1400 MWe. These advanced plants are expected to be highly competitive with other energy sources.
The first APR1400 units, Shin Kori 3 & 4, are currently in the pre-contract stage. Plans call for Shin Kori 3 & 4 to be in commercial operation by 2011 with two additional APR 1400 units in operation by 2015.
On schedule and under budget
The Republic of Korea continues to keep its nuclear construction programme on schedule and under budget. The programme is based on using standard designs to obtain maximum benefit from replication and employing a very disciplined approach to incorporate design changes. This successful approach could serve as a model for nuclear construction programmes in other parts of the world.