South Korea stands by nuclear plant expansion

South Korea will carry on with its nuclear plans despite Japan crisis.

Updated: Mar 28, 2011, 13:45 PM IST

Seoul: South Korea, the world`s fifth largest oil importer and now a major global supplier of nuclear plants, will not abandon its nuclear plans despite the nuclear crisis in Japan, a government minister said on Monday.

Nuclear already accounts for 31.4 percent of resource-poor South Korea`s electricity generation needs and government plans call for it to rise to 48.5 percent by 2024.

It has seven reactors under construction, with plans to build six more and bring to 34 the number on stream by 2024.

"Our answer to the nuclear industry is that we need to keep going," Minister of Knowledge Economy Choi Joong-kyung said in a speech to a business event on Monday.

"Part of our manufacturing industry`s competitiveness comes from nuclear power thanks to its cheap energy costs. Therefore, it is hard to give up."

There have been small anti-nuclear protests since an earthquake and tsunami wrecked the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plants in Japan this month. Another rally was planned for Monday, but the backlash has been much smaller than in countries like Germany.

Of South Korea`s total primary energy consumption in 2009, nuclear power accounted for 13.1 percent, while oil made up 42.1 percent, coal 28.2 percent, LNG 13.9 percent, renewable energy 2.2 percent and hydropower the rest. South Korea aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2020.

Choi said South Korea would continue to export nuclear power plants of the kind signed with the United Arab Emirates in December 2009. South Korea has no exposure to China, which temporarily suspended approval of nuclear power projects pending a review.

Bureau Report