NuScale, a small modular reactor (SMR) company in the United States, signed a memorandum of understanding with Doosan Enerbility, GS Energy and Samsung C&T, a construction and engineering company, to jointly promote the development of businesses that build and operate SMR power plants around the world.
NuScale CEO John Hopkins hailed the quadripartite as an important milestone in delivering carbon-free, stable, and economical energy throughout Asia, saying his company would work with South Korean investors to supply clean energy to the world within the next 10 years.
NuScale, based in Portland, Oregon, aims to enter the global SMR market after successfully carrying out the first commercial deployment of its power plant for Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS). Commercial operation of the first module is expected to begin in 2029.
SMRs can address the limitations of light-water reactors using low-enriched uranium that cost a lot to replace nuclear fuel and require a vast emergency evacuation zone, nonproliferation and waste management. Small reactors designed with modular technology allow for less on-site construction, increased containment efficiency, and enhanced safety.
Domestic companies think that their cooperation in SMRs will contribute to the rapid recovery of South Korea's nuclear power industry ecosystem. "I hope NuScale's world-leading SMR technology will be mixed with the superior nuclear power and power generation capabilities of our country to contribute greatly to the world," GS Energy CEO Huh Yong-soo said in a statement on April 26.
SMRs gained attention after South Korea's next leader Yoon Suk-yeol vowed to revitalize South Korea's struggling nuclear power industry, criticizing President Moon Jae-in's "nuclear-exit" policy of phasing out nuclear power plants. Moon prioritized the establishment of infrastructure for renewable energy sources and a hydrogen economy, while Yoon regards renewable energy as an auxiliary means for nuclear power plants.
The quadripartite deal came a day after NuScale allowed Doosan Enerbility, a key player in South Korea's nuclear industry, to produce forging materials for SMRs as early as 2022. The materials will support NuScale's first commercial deployment of its power plant for UAMPS. NuScale's reactors are based on a safer, smaller, and scalable version of pressurized water reactor technology. With NuScale's scalable design, a power plant can house up to 12 individual power modules. It houses the reactor core, pressurizer and steam generator inside a single containment vessel.
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