S Korea to reduce power generation from nuke, coal by boosting LNG, renewables

Seoul (Platts)--20 Oct 2017 536 am EDT/936 GMT

South Korean energy officials said Friday that the government would press ahead with its drive to reduce reliance on nuclear and coal in electricity generation despite a state panel's recommendation to resume construction of two nuclear reactors.

The Public Discussion Committee recommended resuming the construction of two partly built reactors, Shin Kori-5 and -6, after three months of assessment of public sentiment on the fate of the reactors.

The committee reached the decision based on a survey of 471 people selected as a jury on whether to abandon or continue with the reactors that have been under construction in the Kori nuclear complex on the southeastern coast.

In the final survey, 59.5% of the jury supported the resumption of the project while 40.5% backed its abandonment, the panel said in a statement.

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The committee conducted a public survey of 20,000 people, and among the respondents, 500 were picked as a jury, and 471 joined the final survey.

"On the basis of the surveys, the committee recommends to the government to resume construction of Shin Kori-5 and -6," Kim Ji-Hyung, chairman of the committee, told a press conference.

Shin Kori-5 and -6 reactors, each with a capacity of 1,400 MW, had been under construction since June 2016, with the aim of starting commercial operations in October 2021 and October 2022, respectively.

But construction was suspended in July under newly elected President Moon's policy to reduce reliance on nuclear reactors in electricity generation.

The construction of the two reactors is 30% completed, with the country having spent Won 1.6 trillion ($1.4 billion) out of the total budget of Won 8.6 trillion.

The government is expected to hold a Cabinet meeting early next week to make a formal approval for resuming the construction of the two reactors.

"But the government will press ahead with efforts to reduce heavy reliance on nuclear and coal in power generation by boosting renewable sources and LNG," said an official at the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy. "The state panel's survey shows more people want less nuclear power," he said.

The committee said that while 53.2% of the jury called for scaling back nuclear power generation, 35.5% supported maintaining the current mix, and only 9.7% wanted expansion of nuclear power production.

"Therefore, the committee also recommends that the government make energy policy decisions in the direction of scaling down nuclear power generation," Kim said.

Currently, the country runs 25 nuclear reactors that account for some 30% of the entire electricity supply. Coal-fired plants generate around 40%, while LNG accounts for 20%, with renewable sources and hydraulic at 7%.

The new energy plan calls for the country to increase the portion of LNG in power generation to 37% and renewable sources to 20% by 2030.

"Under the policy, the government will scrap all projects for new nuclear reactors and coal-fired power plants," the ministry official said.

"The government is also pushing to convert coal-fired power plants which are set to start construction into LNG-based ones as part of efforts to reduce air pollution," he said. "The government is seeking to diversify LNG sources for stable supplies," the official said.

--Charles Lee,
--Edited by E Shailaja Nair,

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