South Korean government embraces incomplete development of SMR

Modular advanced reactor integrated into the system developed by the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute

The Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy and the Ministry of Science and ICT requested feasibility studies in September this year regarding the development of next-generation small modular reactors. In their bid for the 583.2 billion won project, they said the development was for export.

South Korea developed the world’s first small modular reactor as early as 2012. However, commercialization of the technology has yet to begin, with the Moon Jae-in administration adhering to its nuclear phase-out policy.

At the same time, 76 companies in 18 countries, including the United States, United Kingdom, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Japan and China, are currently working on various types of small modular reactors. Their competition has accelerated since NuScale Power passed a design test in 2020.

South Korea’s nuclear industry players point out that the government’s small modular reactor development plan that does not involve construction and use in South Korea makes no sense. “South Korea’s leading position in the industry has been completely lost due to government insistence,” said Professor Joo Han-kyu from the Department of Nuclear Engineering at Seoul National University.

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