By Lee Kyung-min The government will spend 399.2 billion won ($321 million) over the next six years to foster small modular reactor (SMR) businesses. The plan to develop the country's new growth driver has gained serious traction after passing the government's feasibility test which is required for large, long-term state-run projects, the science and industry ministries said Wednesday.
SMRs are the next generation of nuclear reactors, defined by lower power generation capacity and size, yet they are safer and simpler in design as well as in the construction method. The Ministry of Science and ICT the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said the project was approved Tuesday, a step toward the rapid advancement of nuclear power energy via stable investment in research and development (RandD).
The initiative, tentatively named "i-SMR development project," will manufacture from 2023 to 2028 reactors with a power generation capacity of less than 300 megawatts, about a third of the 1,000 megawatts used for large nuclear power plants. Separate from the project, the government will invest 348.2 billion won until 2030 to develop technologies needed to decommission Gori 1 and Wolseong 1, two permanently suspended nuclear reactors in Busan and North Gyeongsang Province, respectively.
The amount will be spent on upgrading and advancing the current decommissioning technologies and in-depth training of highly skilled professionals in the high-tech field that requires deep expert knowledge. The investment, the ministries said, will lay the foundation for fortifying the nuclear energy industry, nurturing young people seeking expertise in radioactive waste treatment and sustainable, eco-friendly energy use.
The industry ministry said the passage of the feasibility study will present an enormous opportunity for growth in the country, in line with the Yoon Suk-yeol administration's energy policy reoriented to place more weight on the cheaper and stable energy source, which had long been shunned without a viable alternative. "The government's nuclear energy will prioritize safety and economic feasibility to meet the stable energy demands by the public," the ministry said in a statement.