|Saeul units 3 and 4 under construction in the coastal area of Seosaeng-myeon, Ulju-gun, Ulsan./ Source: Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP) Saeul Headquarters|
South Korea spent $300 million for its first nuclear power plant, which was one-quarter of the national budget in 1970. The Gori unit 1 played a decisive role in industrialization, although it took 14 years to be completed after much controversy. As of 2022, nuclear power cost 42 won per kilowatt-hour in average, four times lower than the price of coal at 170 won, showing economic effects. The previous Moon Jae-in government stopped operating and constructing some nuclear power plants. However, the present Yoon Suk-yeol government is restoring the nuclear ecosystem, leading to a means of earning foreign currency. AsiaToday introduces the country’s nuclear power generation industry with worldclass competitiveness. [Editor’s Note]
AsiaToday reporter Lee Seo-yeon
The Saeul Nuclear Power Plant in the form of a huge dome reminiscent of Florence’s Cathedral. Saeul units 3 and 4, which had been suspended for three months from July 2017 to discuss the former government’s denuclearization, are currently scheduled to be completed with a process rate of 88.05 percent.
The construction site of Saeul units 3 and 4 in Ulsan, visited by AsiaToday reporters on July 3, was in the process of assembling structures inside the reactors and electrical construction after completing external structural construction. At the site, various nuclear power plant equipment was coming in and out through a 72-meter diameter tube. The officials were proud to explain that they hired all 3,700 Korean workers for the thorough security of APR1400, which will be the reference point for nuclear power plants in the world.
Saeul-3 aims to be completed in October 2024 after a high-temperature function test in November this year and a fuel charging in March 2024. Saeul-4 is set to be completed and commercially operated in October 2024, a year after the completion of the Unit 3.
The estimated annual power generation of Saeul units 3 and 4 is about 20.8 billion kWh. This amounts to 3.6 percent of the total domestic power generation and is a power generation that can solve about 20 percent of the annual electricity usage in Busan, Ulsan and Gyeongnam.
From the observatory, the difference in the size of reservoir of units 3 and 4 compared with units 1 and 2 was noticeable. They were designed to increase the storage capacity of the storage tank from 20 years to 60 years for stable operation and management of spent nuclear fuel during the operation period of the power plant.
The officials explained that the spent nuclear fuel storage building is of the first grade of earthquake resistance and is even resistant to large civilian aircraft collisions. In addition to increasing power generation capacity, additional facilities have been secured to further strengthen stability to cope with serious accidents.
In fact, Saeul units 3 and 4 raised the seismic performance of essential devices for safe shutdown and maintenance of reactors from 0.3 to 0.5 gram. In addition, the thickness of the reactor walls were strengthened from 122 to 137cm after conducting an aircraft collision impact assessment referring to the case of September 11 aircraft terror. In preparation for the loss of power, the number of alternators that were used for two units has been increased to one per each reactor. The battery capacity has also been expanded to 7,200AH (24 hours).