South Korea and U.S. halt talks on nuclear energy cooperation

South Korea and the United States have called a halt to their sensitive negotiation on future nuclear energy cooperation, an informed source here said Thursday. “Actual talks are deemed difficult this year,” said the source well versed in the issue, requesting anonymity.

South Korea’s Lee Myung-bak government “has decided to pass negotiations to the next administration,” added the source. Lee is to retire in February. Seoul instead plans to focus on efforts to publicize its position on the matter for the time being, the source said.

South Korean officials argue that the current pact with the U.S. is obsolete. The existing pact, signed in 1974 and set to expire in 2014, bans South Korea from enriching uranium even for commercial purposes and reprocessing nuclear waste from about two dozen reactors using U.S.-supplied nuclear materials.

For full article see Yonhap News.

Australian company aims to run first uranium mine in Korea

Korea, the world’s fifth-largest user of nuclear power, is expected to start the production of its own uranium as early as 2015, Australian energy company Stonehenge Metals, which has the exclusive rights to the deposits, said Wednesday.  “Our goal is to operate the first uranium mine in Korea, which would be both a massive national asset and a boon to the local communities,” Richard Henning, managing director of the Perth-based Stonehenge, said at a press conference in Seoul. 

In the 1980s, the Korean government discovered uranium deposits in an underground seam near Daejeon, about 160 kilometers south of Seoul. But they were not commercially viable at the time due to the high cost of development.

Nuclear power supplies 40 percent of power needs here and the domestic demand for the material will continue to double by 2020. But Korea has been entirely dependent on imports for uranium thus far. According to a previous study by the Korean government, around 65 million pounds of uranium are distributed throughout the Daejeon area, an amount that could deliver a quarter of the nation’s current nuclear needs for the next 20 years.

For full article see Korea Herald.

Seoul City plans solar panels

Seoul Metropolitan Government  unveiled a plan to install solar panels on around 10,000 buildings, schools and houses by 2014. The city aims to increase the use of photovoltaic energy to 320 megawatts of electricity by that year.

Half of the energy will be generated from rooftops or idle facilities of public offices and schools, while the other half from private buildings and houses. The city will also make an online solar map that shows the expected generating capacity of the solar power and whether buildings and houses can be equipped with photovoltaic facilities.

For full article see Korea Herald.

Korean electricity market: report by EUCCK

Korea generated about 472 Billion Kilowatthours (BkWh) of net electricity in 2011, up by an estimated 3.9% in the previous year. Of this amount, 65% came from conventional thermal sources, 34% came from nuclear power, and roughly one percent came from renewable sources. Although thermal capacity is dominant in Korea at present, nuclear power is set to expand over the next decade, along with significant investment in offshore wind farms.

Korea holds only 139 million short tons (MMst) of recoverable coal reserves. Consumption reached 126 MMst of coal in 2010, while production was less than 3 MMst. As a result, Korea is the third largest importer of coal in the world, following only Japan and China. Australia and Indonesia account for the majority of Korea’s coal imports. Coal consumption increased by over one-third between 2005 and 2010, driven primarily by growing demand from the electric power sector. The electric power sector accounts for more than half of coal consumption, while the industrial sector accounts for most of the remainder.

Meanwhile, Korea has announced that it will spend 40 trillion won by 2015 in a combined investment by the public (7 trillion won) and private sector (33 trillion won) to cultivate renewable energy resources, the Ministry of Knowledge Economy said. In this way, the country will be able to become one of the world’s top five powers in renewable energy, the ministry added.

In particular, the government aims to nurture solar energy and wind power industries as the “next semiconductor” and the “next shipbuilding” industries to take up 15% of the global market share by 2015. In the private sector, 20 trillion won will be injected in solar energy, 10 trillion won in wind power, 900 billion won in fuel cells and 900 billion won in bio.
The ministry estimated such investments will generate 110,000 new jobs and increase exports of renewable energy by US$36.2 billion by 2015. The size of the global renewable energy market stood at US$162 billion in 2009, and is expected to grow to US$400 billion by 2015 and to US$1 trillion by 2020.

For full report see EUCCK Infomag.

Nuclear Power: Report by EUCCK

Korea relies on nuclear energy for about 30 percent of its electricity needs, supplied by 23 active nuclear reactors. The government aims to increase that share to 40 percent by 2040.

Nuclear technology in Korea has been an integral part of the country’s socio-economic development over the past decades, and its evolution from an importer to a potential exporter of nuclear plants and nuclear technologies provides spin-offs to technological innovation as well as to the environmental benefits in terms of avoiding GHG and other pollution in the context of achieving sustainable development.

Nuclear activities in Korea were initiated in 1957 when Korea became a member of the IAEA. In 1959, the Office of Atomic Energy was established as a government organization in conformity with the global trend toward developing peaceful uses of atomic energy. The Atomic Energy Law was promulgated in the preceding year. The first nuclear reactor to achieve criticality in Korea was a small research unit in 1962.

Korea has carried out a very ambitious nuclear power program since the 1970’s in parallel with the nation’s industrialization policy, and has maintained a strong commitment to nuclear power development as an integral part of the national energy policy aimed at reducing external vulnerability and insuring against global fossil fuel shortage.

For full report see EUCCK Infomag.

Korea’s atomic power industry faces challenge

A string of breakdowns, aging reactors and aftereffects of the Fukushima meltdown have come together to trigger the biggest crisis in Korea’s nuclear industry since its birth.

With a parliamentary election less than three weeks away, some opposition candidates are joining forces to call for the scrapping of atomic energy plants. The intensifying political onslaught, emboldened by safety jitters among the public, poses further challenges to President Lee Myung-bak, who seeks to transform the country into a leading reactor exporter.

Against all odds, the government is pushing to boost nuclear energy to 59 percent of total electricity supplies by 2030 from some 30 percent now. It plans to add 19 to the existing 23 reactors, the second-largest power source after coal.

For full article see Korea Herald.

Korea to spend $1.61 bn in energy R&D in 2012

South Korea’s Ministry of Knowledge Economy (MKE) will be setting aside 1.821 trillion won ($1.61 billion) for energy-related research and development.

The government will be injecting 1.821 trillion won in 19 projects belonging to four categories of energy and resource development, new and renewable energy, electric and nuclear energy, and radioactive waste management, the MKE disclosed Tuesday.

The ministry’s energy R&D focus this year will be on boosting the marketability of core energy products and improving the efficiency and safety of energy-guzzling products frequently used by low-income households and senior consumers.

To promote shared growth between large companies and smaller enterprises, all sizeable projects will require the participation of medium-sized companies or small and mid-sized businesses.

For full article see Maeil Business.

KAERI developed non-destructive robots detecting less than 1mm fine defects

A Korean research team has developed pipe inspection robots which can detect microscopic defects with less than 1mm in complicated and narrow pipes.

Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI) announced on February 7 that a team, led by Dr. Kim Seung-ho at the department of Nuclear Fusion Technology Development, developed non-destructive inspection robots which can detect foreign substances in pipes and less than 1mm fine defects such as hollow or projecting parts in pipes by using lasers.

The robots have been developed over three years starting in 2009 with the investment of 1.25 billion won as a part of the Korea Institute of Energy Technology Evaluation and Planning’s project on the fusion and original technology development of the electric power industry.

For full article see Korea IT News.

Korea to build research reactor for production of isotopes

The government took the first step toward building its first research nuclear reactor that can produce molybdenum-99, a radioactive isotope used to diagnose and treat various illnesses, including cancer.

The country already has a research reactor that produces radioactive isotopes but not molybdenum, which is most frequently used in medical procedures, according to an official from the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI).

The new 20-megawatt reactor, along with an isotope production facility, will be built in Busan, 450 kilometers south of Seoul, by 2016. The 290 billion won ($259 million) project will be partially funded by the city of Busan, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology said.

For full article see Korea Times.

Korean government to give more weight to new renewable energy in energy plan

South Korea’s Knowledge Economy Minister Hong Suk-woo said that the government will attach more weight to expanding the new renewable energy in its energy plan. “The first government energy plan is completed, and the second plan has to be set up within this year,” Minister Hong at a meeting held by the Korea International Trade Association (KITA) Friday.

“The government has to decide the magnitude of each energy resources such as nuclear and renewable energy in the plan,” Minister Hong noted. “Although renewable energy projects face difficulties in several aspects, the government intends to expand the use of renewable energy as it is a direction that the country must be headed for”.

“The idea of ‘shared growth’ between large conglomerates and small- and mid-size businesses (SMBs) is taking root,” the minister added. “Shared growth has to be established as culture although it still needs structural and systematic efforts”.

For full article see Maeil Business.