Yoon allocates $2.47 bil. to revive Korea’s nuclear renaissance

President Yoon Suk Yeol speaks during the 14th townhall meeting on people's livelihood issues, at the office of South Gyeongsang Provincial Government in Changwon, Thursday. Yonhap

President Yoon Suk Yeol speaks during the 14th townhall meeting on people’s livelihood issues, at the office of South Gyeongsang Provincial Government in Changwon, Thursday. Yonhap

Gov’t also pledges to extend W1 tril. in financing for nuclear industry

By Ko Dong-hwan

President Yoon Suk Yeol pledged, Thursday, to revive the country’s once-thriving nuclear power industry by pledging 3.3 trillion won ($2.47 billion) in projects and extending 1 trillion won in financing.

Speaking at the president’s 14th townhall meeting on people’s livelihood issues which was held in Changwon, South Gyeongsang Province, Yoon also vowed to boost the country’s technological capability for small modular reactor (SMR) and introduce the country’s first SMR model, i-SMR, by 2028.

Organized by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, the meeting demonstrated that the Yoon administration is eager to revive the industry that was once antagonized by his predecessor. Yoon’s pledged fund for job creation is higher than previous years when it was 3 trillion won in 2023 and 2.4 trillion won in 2022.

“Since my administration’s commencement, we started rebuilding Shin Hanul nuclear power reactor units 3 and 4 and got to work on re-running 10 nuclear reactor units that were banned by the previous government,” Yoon said.

“And we’ve so far exported 4 trillion won worth of nuclear power plant technologies, which is more than six times the entire export achievement by the previous government. We’ve prioritized normalizing the country’s nuclear power ecology as our foremost goal.”

The government’s special financing programs for local nuclear energy companies are set to double their pool this year compared to 2023. This initiative encompasses a financial support project of 100 billion won for the country’s nuclear power ecology, providing low-interest loans through local banks.

To expand investment on the industry, the authority will also expand the existing range of qualifications for tax exemption. “Large-scale nuclear power plant manufacturing technologies” have been newly added to the list and the category of “SMR manufacturing technologies” will be broadened so that companies that have been unable to receive the incentives can take advantage of it.

The new broadened tax exemption conditions will likely draw investments worth more than 1 trillion won for research works in the industry in this year alone, according to the ministry.

The ministry said it will invest 4 trillion won during five years under Yoon’s term for research and development on SMR and other future nuclear technologies. This comes as the government’s previous R&D budget mainly went to developing treatment facilities for spent nuclear fuels and deconstructing expired power plants.

To advance i-SMR, the ministry said it will prepare a dedicated budget nine times bigger than the previous year and concentrate the budget on a new private-government SMR alliance that was launched last year. The ministry aims to develop modular SMR so that it can be assembled in local factories in the country and exported overseas.

“Changwon will see the country’s new SMR cluster,” the Trade, Industry and Energy Minister Ahn Duk-geun said at the meeting. “The city is full of companies with superb nuclear power equipment manufacturing capabilities. They will be like the country’s competent chip foundries like Samsung Electronics and SK hynix.”

Changwon is the country’s first city to have built a nuclear power plant purely by local talents. Since a state-run industrial complex in the city built Hanbit nuclear power reactor units 3 and 4 in 1992 and the industry’s overall value exceeded 10 trillion won for the first time, all of the country’s nuclear reactor units have been built in the city.

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