South Korea has become the latest state to announce plans to build floating nuclear power stations, following the example of Russia and China, World Nuclear News reports.
Kepco Engineering and Construction, a subsidiary of state-owned Korea Electric Power Corporation, has signed a memorandum of understanding with Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering that sets out plans to develop ships fitted with small modular reactors.
Kepco is planning to use the power barges to supply electricity to islands where power grids are hard to install, or areas whose power demand is surging dramatically.
Korea’s move follows Russia’s successful completion of the Akademic Lomonosov, the world’s first floating nuclear power plant, which began supplying heat to the Russian port of Pevek on the East Siberian Sea in July (see further reading).
It also follows plans by China, first announced in 2016, to build a fleet of floating reactors to supply power to islands in the South China Sea.
However, the Korean project has the additional aim of promptly establishing power infrastructure in North Korea in the case of unification and avoiding the political conflict that has been associated with the development of onshore nuclear power stations.
The project will combine Kepco’s "world-class nuclear power plant design and construction technology" and Daewoo’s diverse experience and shipbuilding know-how.
Kepco added the agreement was expected to lead to the development of floating offshore nuclear power plants equipped with BANDI-60 reactors, a small modular reactor design it has been developing since 2016.
The Daewoo agreement is not the first that Kepco has signed in pursuit of floating nuclear plants. In June 2014, it signed a memorandum with Korea Institute of Machinery and Materials (KIMM).
According to that deal, Kepco would be in charge of system engineering for generating units and inland connection and KIMM was responsible for designing floating structure and main power generation facilities.
And in April 2016, it held a conference with the Korea Research Institute of Ships and Ocean Engineering to discuss the business model for floating nuclear plants.
Image: Kepco and Korea Institute of Machinery and Materials officials at the 2014 signing ceremony (Kepco)