KOPEC Pulls Ahead in Nuclear Race
Korea has a total of twenty nuclear power plants in operation at present, and an additional eight plants are under construction or in the process of being designed. The total capacity of nuclear power plant facilities operating in Korea amounts to 17.7 million KW, and the country ranks 6th in the world in terms of the production of nuclear energy after the United States, France, Japan, Russia and Germany. Nuclear energy accounts for 40 percent of the nation's electricity production. The ratio of the domestic supply relative to imports of nuclear power plant equipment and materials, including nuclear fuel, exceeded 90 percent recently, as nuclear energy has become a lowcost, domestically generated energy source in the country. The Korean people can get a supply of cheap, stable, and high-quality electricity thanks to nuclear energy.
KOPEC was established in October 1975 to carry out the national mission of developing domestic technology for the construction of a nuclear power plant by securing technological independence in the domain of nuclear power plant technology. Backed by the government's vigorous campaign to develop nuclear energy and the concerted efforts of the various parties involved in the program, KOPEC independently developed the Korean standard nuclear power plant named OPR- 1000 and a new light water reactor named APR-1400 on its own. The Company has earned widespread recognition for outstanding performance of those reactors and has now become an exporter of the latest nuclear technology to some of the advanced countries, from which it had previously received technical assistance.
Since its inception in 1975, KOPEC has made all-out efforts to develop and build its capacity for nuclear power plant design, banking on the government's policy to cultivate nuclear energy over a 10- year period. The Company recruited talented engineers and sent them to foreign countries to participate in the actual design of nuclear power plants and fielded them to the construction sites of Korean nuclear power plants to gain hands-on experience, thereby laying the foundations for the securing of technological independence in the field of nuclear power plant design.
Thanks to these efforts to accumulate nuclear plant design technology, KOPEC was picked as the main contractor for general design and nuclear reactor assembly design for Yonggwang Nuclear Units 3 and 4 in April 1987. While taking advice from foreign engineering companies on the design technology they lacked, KOPEC successfully completed the design of Yonggwang Nuclear Units 3 and 4 in late 1995. Homegrown technology accounted for only 8 percent of Kori Nuclear Unit 1, which was completed in 1978, but the figure soared to 74 percent with the completion of Yonggwang Nuclear Units 3 and 4, which was a result of KOPEC's careful consideration of Korean standards and specifications and the domestic market situation in the process of design.
In addition, KOPEC served as a key player in the design of Wolsong Nuclear Power Plants 2 and 4, which are equipped with heavy water reactors, and in the early 1990s began work on the development of design technology for Ulchin Nuclear Power Plants 3 and 4, which were dubbed the Optimized Power Reactor 1000 (OPR- 1000), and are now the Korean standard nuclear power plants. From the 1990s, KOPEC developed the design for Ulchin Plants 3 and 4, which are model OPR- 1000 power plants, applied the design to the Korea Energy Development Organization (KEDO)'s nuclear plants for North Korea, and effectively earned international recognition for the reactor's high performance and safety values.
Furthermore, KOPEC developed the OPR-1000+, which has further enhanced the OPR-1000 in terms of safety, technology, economy, and convenience in operation and maintenance, and is now applying it to the nuclear power plant designs of Shin Kori Plants 1 and 2 and Shin- Wolsong Plants 1 and 2. Moreover, it developed the 1,400 MWe-class Advanced Power Reactor 1400 (APR- 1400) with enhanced safety and economy, and has applied it to Shin Kori Plants 3 and 4, demonstrating to the world its advanced and independent technology in nuclear power plant design.
Now, KOPEC is gearing up for another leap forward to secure the export of Korean nuclear power plants by banking on the experience and technological know-how it has built up in Korea over the past three decades. Nuclear energy is becoming increasingly important due to global warming resulting from the use of fossil fuels and high oil prices and the need for stable energy sources. So the world is ushering in a renaissance of nuclear energy. The US has revised its Energy Act to promote the construction of new nuclear power plants, and China has chosen to increase the number of nuclear power plants to meet the growing demand for electricity in tune with its economic development. Developing countries in Southeast Asia are also proactively considering the introduction of nuclear power plants to fill predicted shortages in power supply. All these countries constitute important foreign nuclear energy markets into which Korea aims to make inroads.
KOPEC plans to continue to develop business models under differentiated programs catering to these respective markets in the United States, China, Europe, and Southeast Asia. The Company plans to provide additional services for the AP- 1000 project of Westinghouse in the US, in which it is participating, by assisting with the design work. The Company will also continue to push for the development of a research nuclear reactor, for which it has laid the foundations for export this year, targeting the European market. Moreover, KOPEC will demonstrate its technological capacity in various other fields, including the disposal of radioactive waste in China. KOPEC aims to seal export contracts worth 25 billion won this year alone.
Meanwhile, apart from the export of independent design technology, KOPEC continues to cooperate with nuclear power companies, including Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co, to win turnkey projects for nuclear power plant construction worth 2 trillion won in promising export countries including Turkey and Romania. If they can secure these projects successfully, KOPEC will make important contributions to the globalization of Korea's nuclear power plant technology as the technological hub of its nuclear energy industry.