KHNP in East Europe to win reactor projects, one team with US under study

이미지 확대 The chief of Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co. (KHNP), the state operator of nuclear reactors, has headed for the Czech Republic and Poland on Sunday in hopes to proliferate Korean reactor technology in East Europe after Africa and Middle East.

According to multiple sources from the government and nuclear power plant industry, Whang Joo-ho, inaugurated as the chief executive of KHNP last month, led working-level team for a four-day trip to the Czech Republic and Poland.

They will meet with nuclear energy authorities and project officials to pitch supremacy of Korean nuclear reactors.

Korea has completed construction of the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant project in the United Arab Emirates under original timetable and budget and recently joined the El-Dabaa nuclear power project in Egypt.

Whang’s first trip to the two countries since inauguration in August follows Trade, Industry and Energy Minister Lee Chang-yang’s visit in June.

Poland is planning to build six new nuclear reactors. KHNP submitted a bid in April. An operator is expected to be named as early as in the end of this year.

The Czech Republic has budgeted to add a new nuclear reactor in Dukovany complex. KHNP is readying to hand in its bid in November. The preferred bidder who would be assigned with three more reactors will be picked in 2024.

Korea would be pitted against the United States and France for the projects in the two countries.

KHNP could form a consortium with Westinghouse as Korea and the U.S. summits have agreed on exploration of overseas nuclear reactor projects.

“The possibility of forming Team Korus (Korae-U.S.) is open,” Whang told Maeil Business Newspaper over the phone. “Korea joining hands with the U.S. in nuclear energy exploration would set a good partnership model.”

But various options are possible when a joint term is difficult, he added.

Korea is first targeting the Lubiatowo-Kopalino project in Poland. The Polish government plans to build six plants totaling 6,000~9,000 megawatts between 2033 and 2043 and pick an operator as early as this year.

The Dukovany Nuclear Power Station project in the Czech Republic will be next as its government will pick a preferred bidder in 2024. The bidder can expect to win additional orders for three nuclear reactors.

Saudi Arabia is planning to build two 1,400 megawatt nuclear power plants by 2030, and Korea would likely vie with France, Russia, and China for the project. The United Kingdom, Netherlands, South Africa, the Philippines, and Kazakhstan also wish to add reactors.

“The winning chance for the reactor projects can be bigger if Korea and U.S. can form a consortium,” said a nuclear expert in Korea who asked to be unnamed. “The U.S. has outstanding capacity in nuclear design technology and securing funds on top of political and diplomatic power while Korea has competitiveness in construction and supply chain sectors.”

“Even if Korea solely wins orders, it will be inevitable to rule out Westinghouse in the project given various interests,” said Yoon Sang-jick, former industry minister.

The nuclear energy project in Poland can go to the U.S., given its relations with Washington amid Russia-Ukraine war environment. The Polish government at the same time highly evaluates Korea’s construction capacity and price competitiveness and is hoping to cooperate in other advanced industry sectors like chips and batteries and defense.

Westinghouse, acquired by Canadian private equity fund Brookfield, said to be positive on the Team Korus idea, for higher winning chance.

By Song Gwang-sup, Park Dong-hwan, and Lee Eun-joo

[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business News Korea &, All rights reserved]