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Overview of Korean nuclear development history

Korea opened the era of nuclear power in the 1970s by introducing the first nuclear power plant, Kori 1, on a turnkey basis with the heavy involvement of Westinghouse (WEC). Later, Korea actively promoted the localization of nuclear power by implementing a localization program established in 1984. In the 1990s, Korea achieved nuclear power technology self-reliance with the development of the OPR1000 reactor. Korea’s APR1400 reactor received design certification in 2001. More recently, R&D on the development of an APR+ reactor has been accelerated.

Major line of business, main products and services

  1. 1970s
    Introduction of Nuclear Power
    Kori#1(‘71 ~ ’78)
  2. 1980s
    Promotion of Localization
    Establishment of Localization Plan(‘84)
  3. 1990s
    Technology Self-Reliance
    OPR1000 Development(‘95)
  4. 2000s
    Development of Advanced Rx
    APR1400 Development(‘01)
  5. 2010s
    Development of APR1400+
    APR1400+ R&D Begun(‘07)

Major line of business, main products and services

  1. Led by Foreign Contractors
    1st Phase (1970s)
    Introduction of NPP
    Turnkey Approach
  2. Foreign-Local Joint Design, Joint Manufacturing
    • Foreign : Prime Contractors
    • Local : Sub-Contractors
    2nd Phase (1980s)
    Accumulation of NPP Technology
    Component Approach
  3. Led by Local Contractors
    • Local : Prime Constractors
    • Foreign : Sub-Constractors
    3rd Phase (1990s)
    Technology Self-Reliance
    Development of OPR1000
    Development of APR1400

Localization process

In order to achieve the country’s localization objectives, Korea adopted a comprehensive localization program in 1983. The ultimate goal was to acquire the capabilities with which Korean industry could independently construct high quality nuclear power plants according to construction budget and time constraints.
Initially, localization agreements were implemented with foreign contractors to establish the technology base of domestic companies with a primary objective of achieving 95% localization by the end of 1995.
KEPCO and its subsidiaries and partner companies intended to acquire their own patents, copyrights and related technical rights of the 1,000MW class nuclear power plant design as the final goal of the localization.
Agreements were established in 1987 between Westinghouse and KAERI (Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute) for Nuclear Steam Supply System (NSSS) system design, Westinghouse and DOOSAN for NSSS component design, Westinghouse and KEPCO NF (KEPCO Nuclear Fuel Co.) for nuclear fuel, Sargent & Lundy and KEPCO E&C (KEPCO Engineering & Construction Co.) for plant design and engineering, and GE and DOOSAN for turbine generator components design and manufacturing. The agreement involved five basic methods of localization, such as documentation transfer, computer code transfer, training, research & development participation and consultation.
Korean GovernmentPolicy, Regulation
KEPCO NFFuel, Core Design
DOOSANMajor Equipment
  • License and Technology Transfer Agreement for NSSS System Design and Fuel & Core Design (Jun. 1987- May 1997)
    Westinghouse provided the scope of localization in two categories: technical information and background information. Any technology restricted by a third party was excluded from the scope of localization. The technical information and services provided by localization agreement included documents, patents, computer codes, training, consulting services and R&D participation.
  • License and Technology Transfer Agreement for NSSS Component Design and Manufacturing (Jun. 1987-May 1997)
    DOOSAN received from Westinghouse the necessary technology related to the NSSS component design, manufacturing and overall project management for commercial PWR which had been developed and would be developed during the term of the agreement, the initial period of which lasted from 1987 to 1997. The parties continued to renew the agreement until 2007.
  • Licensing Agreement for PWR Technology (Jun. 1997-May 2007)
    The licensing agreement for PWR technology succeeded earlier technology transfer agreements for "NSSS System Design and Fuel & Core Design" and "NSSS Component Design and Manufacturing". Westinghouse granted the rights and license to KEPCO/KHNP and to other signing members (KEPCO E&C, KAERI, DOOSAN, KEPCO NF) in their respective fields of use. The activities of NSSS system design and Fuel & ICD were transferred to KEPCO E&C and KEPCO NF, respectively, on January 1, 1997.
    • The nuclear technology self-reliance plan for system design consisted of following three (3) phases;
    • Phase I: Joint system design with consultation (Yonggwang Units 3 & 4)
    • Phase II: Independent design with consultation (Ulchin Units 3 & 4)
    • Phase III: Self-reliance consolidation (OPR1000 & APR1400)
Localization Results graph images
Localization Results

Results of Localization

KEPCO and its subsidiaries achieved 95% self-reliance in terms of system design of a nuclear power plant by 1995. By 2012, Korea’s nuclear industry will achieve 100% self-reliance.