South Korea to scrap building new nuclear power plants

  • South Korea to scrap building new nuclear power plants

South Korea to scrap building new nuclear power plants

South Korea now operates 25 nuclear reactors, which generate about 30 percent of the country's power supply.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Monday vowed to scrap all existing plans for new nuclear power plants and not to extend the operation of any aged reactors.

Moon made the announcement at a ceremony to decommission the Kori-1 nuclear reactor at Busan, the country's first and oldest nuclear power plant.

He also vowed to cut South Korea's reliance on coal.

"Korea's energy policy used to pursue low cost and efficiency, while people's lives, safety and environmental sustainability used to be treated lightly".

Moon's announcement is expected to ensure that Korea delivers on its current climate target of 37 percent by 2030 as outlined in the Paris agreement.

"The shutdown of Kori-1 is the beginning of a nuclear-free energy country, a paradigm shift for a safer Korea", Moon said.

The president said all plans to build new nuclear reactors, for which preparations were already being made, will be scrapped and that lifespan of existing reactors will not be extended. Its nuclear power production from 25 nuclear plants in 2016 was the fifth-largest in the world, according to the World Nuclear Association.

"The government will not extend the operational life cycle of nuclear reactors". Daul Jang, Senior Climate & Energy Campaigner at Greenpeace East Asia (Seoul), said: "Wind and solar energy will account for over a third of the world's power generation by 2040 so President Moon's promise to prioritize renewables as a source of national growth provides great hope".

Public support for nuclear power has been undermined by a local scandal in 2010 over forged certificates for spare parts and the 2011 Fukushima meltdown in neighbouring Japan. A series of earthquakes, which happened a year ago, boosted such concerns in South Korea.

At the same time, spent nuclear fuel will be cooled for 6 to 7 years and then transferred by December 2025 to a yet-to-built dry storage facility able to store a total of 1,391 spent fuel bundles. The decommissioning will take at least 15 years and cost 643.7 billion won ($569 million), the energy ministry said.