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New climate deal could boost nuclear energy

As the new global climate accord reached in Paris earlier this month emphasized the role of nuclear energy in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the state-run Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co. hosted a forum in Seoul on Tuesday to discuss the future of clean energy in preparation for the post-fossil fuel era.

Organized by the Korea Atomic Industrial Forum, the discussion-driven event covered such agendas as the role of nuclear power in a low-carbon economy and Korea’s strategies to achieve its emissions reduction goal, KHNP said in a press release.

“The new climate deal is expected to give the green light to nuclear power again in Korea, which faces limits in shifting to renewables,” the operator of the nation’s 24 reactors added.

The influence of nuclear power as a clean energy source has weakened as the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011 raised safety concerns.

The corruption scandal involving parts supplies to KHNP in 2013 further hurt the Korean public’s trust in nuclear power. 
The Shin Kori Unit 3 in Ulsan. KHNP
The Shin Kori Unit 3 in Ulsan. KHNP

“The continued improvements in safety measures and communication with the public made KHNP turn around in 2014,” KHNP CEO Cho Suk said.

The Korean nuclear plant owner said it expects to post a record-high net profit this year, exceeding the 1.4 trillion won ($1.2 billion) in 2014. The operation rate of the 24 reactors nationwide soared to 85 percent last year from 73.5 percent in 2013.

The company expects the role of nuclear power in the nation’s energy mix to expand in the era of clean energy. As a major nuclear energy country, Korea will also step up efforts to export reactors based on homegrown technologies.

Last month, KHNP completed the loading of fuel into the core of Shin-Kori unit 3, featuring the nation’s first advanced power reactor, dubbed “APR-1400,” in Ulsan, South Gyeongsang Province. The company expects to start commercial operation of the reactor in mid-2016.

By Seo Jee-yeon  (jyseo@heraldcorp.com)
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