South Korea

Map of South Korea

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Energy generation in South Korea

Nuclear power

South Korea has a very ambitious nuclear power program.

The first NPP, Kori Unit 1, started its commercial operation in 1978.

In Feb. 2009, 20 units were in operation and five unit were under construction (source: PRIS/IAEA).

Currently two APRs are under construction, they should be completed in 2013/2014.

Energy demand

With limited domestic energy resources, South Korea is almost entirely dependent on imports to meet its energy consumption needs. South Korea is the fifth-largest net importer of oil in the world, and a significant importer of liquefied natural gas (LNG). Oil makes up the greatest share of South Korea's total energy consumption, though its share has been declining gradually in recent years. Oil supplied 50 percent of South Korea’s total energy consumption in 2004.

Mix of energy generation

In 2004 the country generated 343 billion kilowatthours (Bkwh) of electricity, of which

  • 63 percent came from conventional thermal sources
  • 36 percent came from nuclear power
  • and a small amount came from hydropower stations.


Korea has fuel fabrication facilities for PHWR- and PWR-fuel as well as a radioactive waste treatment facility.

Developments in the nuclear sector

2010: Korea wants to export 80 nuclear power reactors

"Following its sale of four modern nuclear power reactors to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the South Korean Ministry of Knowledge Economy has declared that it aims to achieve exports of 80 nuclear power reactors worth $400 billion by 2030, in the course of becoming the world's third largest supplier of such technology, with a 20% share of the world market, behind the USA and France or Russia. "Nuclear power-related business will be the most profitable market after automobiles, semiconductors and shipbuilding," it said, adding that: "We will promote the industry as a major export business."

The Korean industry aims to be 100% self-sufficient by 2012, with no residual intellectual property constraints. Following the UAE sale, it is marketing to Turkey, Jordan, Romania and Ukraine, as well as South East Asian countries. In addition to exporting reactors, it also plans to enter the $78 billion market for the operation, maintenance and repair of reactors."


2004: Uranium enrichment expirement violating treaties

South Korea, Sept. 6 - South Korea's enrichment of a "minuscule" amount of uranium was a one-time "academic test" tacked on to other, unrelated laser experiments and intended to get more mileage from contaminated equipment intended for the scrap heap, the president of the South Korean government's nuclear research institute, said in an interview here on Monday.
"When they said they wanted to do this research, I said go ahead," said Chang In Soon, president of the Korean Atomic Energy Research Institute, part of the Ministry of Science and Technology. "But I said, do it fast and scrap it straight away afterward."

The enrichment, in January 2000, apparently violated several treaties aimed at keeping the Korean peninsula free of nuclear weapons and weapons-grade fuel. Disclosures of the experiment prompted an intensive inspection here last week by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Inspectors left over the weekend carrying back to their base in Vienna a sample of the enriched uranium.

1998: More NPPs for South Korea

In 1998, Young-Sik Chang, president and CEO of Korea Electric Power Corp (Kepco), announced a change in South Korea´s nuclear energy program, as he tore up a list of nine potential new nuclear plant sites which had been secretly prepared by his predecessor in 1997.

"This was a decision made to start the process over with the Korean people," one government official said. "In the past, sitting new reactors was a matter of paying local governments off in secret. As this country becomes more democratic, such behaviour is no longer an option ." He said Chang had told Kepco executives last week that the utility would seek communities which would agree to host new reactors "on a voluntary basis."
In the meantime Kepco is concentrating on building more reactors at existing sites.
Because little progress has been made in getting firm agreement by local officials to build new reactors at Kepco's Kori and Bonggil sites, which are widely expected to be tapped for up to eight of the next 10 units. Kori already has four PWRs, and Kepco is discussing a plan to compensate local governments to build up to four more. Bonggil is adjacent to the Wolsong site and its four PHWRs.

Sites With Nuclear Facilities

siteplantreactor typconstruction startoperation startshut down
HanaroHanaro Research ReactorHigh-Flux 30 MW1995
Hanbit (former Yonggwang)Hanbit-1 (former Yonggwang-1)PWR 90019801986
Hanbit-2 (former Yonggwang-2)PWR 90019801986
Hanbit-3 (former Yonggwang-3)PWR 95019891994
Hanbit-4 (former Yonggwang-4)PWR 95019891995
Hanbit-5 (former Yonggwang-5)PWR 95019972001
Hanbit-6 (former Yonggwang-6)PWR 95019972002
Hanul (former Uljin)Hanul 4 (former Uljin-4)PWR 95019931998
Hanul 5 (former Uljin-5)PWR 96019992003
Hanul-1 (former Uljin-1)PWR 90019821988
Hanul-2 (former Uljin-2)PWR 90019821989
Hanul-3 (former Uljin-3)PWR 95019931998
Hanul-6 (former Uljin-6)PWR 96019992005
KoriKori-1PWR 56019711977
Kori-2PWR 60019771983
Kori-3PWR 90019791985
Kori-4PWR 90019791985
Kurop-doKurop-doLLW/MLW storage
WolsungWolsung-1CANDU 630 (PHWR)19771982
Wolsung-2PHWR 65019911997
Wolsung-3CANDU 630 (PHWR)19941998
Wolsung-4CANDU 630 (PHWR)19941999