Seoul: South Korea is all set to complete a "standard design" for a new type of mid-size fission reactor unit by the end of this year as part of its efforts to lead the global atomic energy market, the government said on Monday.
The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology said a consortium led by Korea Electric Power Corp made up of 13 companies, including POSCO and STX Heavy Industries Co, agreed to invest USD 81.7 million to complete design work and technical verification of the System Integrated Modular Advanced Reactor (SMART).
The state-run Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute will foot an additional USD 57.26 million with authorisation for construction to be approved next year after a detailed review by the Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety, it said.
SMART is expected to have a power output of around 100 megawatts and is designed to be smaller, cheaper and easier to operate than the current generation of conventional reactors, which have a power output exceeding 1,000 megawatts of power.
"It will be a reactor suitable for developing countries that do not have large-capacity transmission and distribution power grids," a government official said.
He said South Korea would decide in 2011 if it would build a testbed reactor in the country that can be used to show prospective overseas customers the feasibility and safety features of the system.
Local work on SMART began in 1997, with a total of 140.1 billion won poured into research and development so far.
Such smaller-size units may cost around 500 billion won to build, compared to several trillion won for larger reactors.