SEOUL- South Korea may have to build up to five nuclear power plants between 2025 and 2035 to meet a target of 43,000 MW of nuclear power under a plan to reduce the proportion of nuclear in the total energy supply, government officials said on Monday.
Asia's fourth-largest economy has been under pressure to reduce its use of nuclear power after a scandal forced the closure of some reactors that had received replacement parts using fake safety certificates.
The Energy Ministry said this month that the government was considering lowering reliance on nuclear power to 29 per cent of total power by 2035, from 41 per cent by 2030.
But it did not specify how many nuclear reactors would be needed for that plan.
The ministry set out its policy to parliament on Monday saying that to meet the target of 29 per cent of power from nuclear in 2035, the country would need capacity for 43,000 MW of nuclear power by then, up from 36,000 MW by 2024.
"If nuclear power proportion is kept at 29 per cent, we will need a total of 43,000 MW nuclear power capacity in 2035," Kim Jun-dong, deputy minister of energy & resources policy, told parliament.
Kim did not say how many reactors would be needed to meet that target but another Energy Ministry official, who declined to be identified, said it could be achieved by building five more 1,400 MW reactors between 2025 and 2035 "The number of the reactors will be decided by power demand, life span of nuclear reactors and operation conditions and we will propose the exact figure through a basic plan for electricity supply," Kim said.
The ministry also said it plans to invest 1.1 trillion won ($1.04 billion) in ageing nuclear facilities by 2017 as part of efforts to strengthen nuclear safety.
South Korea has 23 nuclear reactors which supply about a third of its electricity, and it plans to add 11 by 2024, with five already under construction.
A study group had advised the government in October that the country should reduce its reliance on nuclear power to between 22 to 29 per cent of total supply in the midst of public anger over corruption in the industry and worries about safety.
The government aims to finalise its energy policy revision in January.
Of the 23 reactors, six are offline including three shut down since late May to replace control cables that were supplied with the forged certificates.
But despite the loss of that power, peak winter power supply has been stable thanks to power-saving.
A fourth reactor is awaiting an extension of its license after its 30-year lifespan expired in November last year and a fifth has been halted by scheduled maintenance through to Jan. 19.
Another has also been shut for scheduled maintenance, extended to mid-January to repair cracks found on the reactor head.