South Korea Shutters Oldest Nuclear Reactor As It Seeks Alternatives

The new president of South Korea, Moon Jae-in, has announced that the Asian country will no longer put up new plants for producing nuclear power. This is part of the new president’s agenda of phasing out nuclear power. On the campaign trail, Moon ran on a platform of reducing the traditional reliance of South Korea on nuclear and coal to meet most of its power needs. The lifespan of the existing nuclear power plants will also not be extended.

“We will end the nuclear-oriented power generation plan and pave the way for a nuclear-free era. We will withdraw existing plans to build new nuclear power plants and not extend the lifespan of nuclear power plants,” Moon announced while presiding over the closure of the Kori nuclear reactor which is located in Busan, 300 kilometers to the southeast of Seoul.

Oldest nuclear reactor

The Kori No.1 nuclear reactor, which is the oldest one in South Korea, was permanently shuttered on Sunday midnight after it reach its lifespan of four decades. It is the first nuclear reactor in the Asian country to be shut down for good.

Currently, there are 25 nuclear reactors in South Korea and combined they provided around 33% of the total power consumed in the country. While campaigning for the presidency, Moon promised to conduct a review of the plans by previous administrations to add eight new nuclear reactors and this includes Kori No.6 and Kori No.5 which are currently partially completed. After the potential compensation costs have been considered as well as construction costs, Moon admitted that a consensus was about to be reached on the two partially completed nuclear reactors.

Fukushima disaster

Moon also added his administration would be seeking to close down Wolsong No.1 which is the second-oldest nuclear reactor in South Korea. Though he did not give timelines, Moon said it would be as soon as the power supply conditions in the country allowed.

In South Korea, a scandal which was unearthed in 2010 and which showed that spare parts certificates had been forged has undermined support by members of the public for nuclear power. The Fukushima nuclear disaster which took place in 2011 in neighboring Japan has helped to further erode support for nuclear power.

To replace nuclear power reactors, Moon is banking on liquefied natural gas and renewable sources of energy. By 2030 new plans by the South Korean government seek to have renewables responsible for a fifth of the total power generated.

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