South Korea seeks to foray into Indian nuclear energy market

Equipped with an approval from the European utilities for its APR 1400 nuclear reactor design, South Korea’s state-owned nuclear operator Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co Ltd (KHNP), a subsidiary of Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO), is looking to expand its export markets especially in India.

Presently, KHNP operates 24 reactors in South Korea, providing about one-third of the country’s electricity. However, the country’s new President Moon Jae-in elected in 2017 has vowed to phase out the nuclear power in over 45 years. The other project that the company has undertaken in the United Arab Emirates will become operational next year. Thereafter, the company says they are looking for new projects for their order books.

“We have got a clearance from the European Utility Requirement, a technical advisory group for European Utilities on nuclear power plants. The European compliant model will help us in making a foray into Indian market,” Assistant Manager of Overseas Nuclear Business Team Global Nuclear Business Department Son Sung-Hoon told Nuclear Asia. The South Korean state-run utility was present at the 9th edition of Indian Nuclear Energy exhibition organised in Mumbai on November 9-10.

The South Korean firm has been trying to gain entry into the Indian nuclear energy market for a long time. The efforts have failed due to the lack of a European compliant model, this time the firm is hopeful that the certification will give it a push. The South Korean firm has modified the design for APR 1400 changing the way it cools itself in case of emergency.

KHNP is in talks with the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) regarding the feasibility of future collaboration. “India has projects from the US, France and Russia to build nuclear reactors in India. With its huge energy needs India needs more options,” Son Sung-Hoon added. India one the other hand does not seem to be in a hurry to conclude a new deal with a foreign firm considering the deals with the Westinghouse and EDF France are yet to materialise.

Under the peaceful nuclear energy cooperation agreement signed between India and South Korea in 2011, New Delhi is keener for collaboration in the field of research on peaceful atomic use. India has recently announced to indigenously develop 10 Pressurised Heavy-Water Reactors (PHWRs) to provide stimulus to the Indian nuclear energy industry that has been struggling with empty order books for nearly a decade now.

On the other hand, South Korea – buoyed by its sale of four nuclear reactor units to the UAE, has set a goal to export 80 nuclear power reactors worth $ 400 billion by 2030. As per statistics from the World Nuclear Association, South Korea intends to become third largest supplier of nuclear technologies in the world with a world market share of 20 per cent. In pursuance of its objective the South Korean company is exploring the market in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kenya and Czech Republic, besides other South East Asian countries.

But for a company that built its credibility on the record development in the domestic nuclear capacity, the anti-nuclear stance of the incumbent government could thwart the company’s ambition a bit.