[THE INVESTOR] State-run utility Korea Electric Power Corp. has reportedly received the green light to supply its own nuclear reactor technology to a nuclear power project in Moorside, UK.
“NuGen (the project developer) told us that they are positive about considering KEPCO’s APR-1400 technology for the project,” a KEPCO official confirmed with The Investor on July 12. “But we still have to compete with Westinghouse for the final supply deal.”
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NuGen, a subsidiary of Toshiba, plans to build a nuclear power plant worth US$17.78 billion by the late 2020s. The Japanese company that has been suffering huge financial losses from its failed nuclear business in the US is seeking to sell a sizeable stake in the Moorside project and Korea’s KEPCO is being cited as one of the potential bidders.
But the issue is the adoption of Korean technology that would require the project to go through another time-consuming assessment and approval process from the UK’s nuclear regulators, which typically takes four to five years.
Toshiba-owned Westinghouse Electric Co. had planned to supply three reactors using its own AP-1000 technology but KEPCO wants to use its own APR-1400 technology if it wins the deal.
Westinghouse’s financial distress could work to KEPCO’s advantage. The US-based firm in March filed for bankruptcy in March, with its capability to go ahead with the pricey project being questioned.
At a nuclear business conference in London late last month, NuGen CEO Tom Samson hinted that the approval process for KEPCO technology could be reduced considering it is already being used in four countries.
"If there is a technology that is delivered in four other places you would hope there will be some crossover knowledge,” he was quoted as saying by local daily In-Cumbria.com.
In the meantime, KEPCO’s plans to pursue the deal was called into question after President Moon Jae-in pledged to reduce Korea’s reliance on nuclear power.
“As a state-owned company, it’s a dilemma for KEPCO,” an industry source told The Investor on condition of anonymity.
“KEPCO wants another major deal like the one with the UAE, but at the same time, it’s afraid it may appear ironic to export nuclear technology when the country is busy shutting down its own facilities.”
By Park Ga-young (firstname.lastname@example.org)