Amid gloomy outlook, MOTIE and the MSIT give awards to 141 people who contributed to their contribution of the development of industry, highest-ever number
Dignitaries, including Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy Sung Yun-mo and Vice Minister Chung Byung-sun of the Ministry of Science and ICT, attend a ceremony to mark the 9th anniversary of Nuclear Power Safety and Promotion Day at the InterContinental Hotel in Seoul on Dec. 27. (Photo: MOTIE)
A ceremony to mark the 9th anniversary of Nuclear Power Safety and Promotion Day was held at the InterContinental Hotel in Seoul on Dec. 27.
Nuclear Power Safety and Promotion Day marks the importance of safety and is a way to promote the industry. The event coincides with the anniversary of Korean companies winning a nuclear power project in the United Arab Emirates on Dec. 27, 2009.
The anniversary event originally had a festive atmosphere designed to encourage and congratulate those in the industry and make resolutions for the New Year. But the mood of this anniversary event was not festive, since the current government began to push ahead with an energy paradigm shift to wean the nation off nuclear power in 2017.
The 2019 anniversary event was also overshadowed by the National Safety and Security Commission’s controversial decision to order the permanent closure of Wolsong Nuclear Power Unit 1, which was scheduled to be extended beyond the design life.
The mood of this year’s anniversary reflected one in a coroner’s office, said an official with the Korean nuclear industry. Another participant with nuclear power R&D said the nuclear power i industry, grappling with hard times, should turn to exports for survival, but worries that success is probability low.
Experts on hand at a forum at the InerContinental Hotel in Seoul on the same day expressed regrets on the current situation of the Korean nuclear power industry circuitously.
Kim Hyun-joon, president of the Institute of Advanced Policy Studies at the Korean Nuclear Society, delivered a keynote speech on the outlook for the industry and his vision on areas of utilizing nuclear power technology.
Evaluating the government’s policies to support the nuclear decommissioning industry and export nuclear power technology, President Kim stressed a need of providing short-term work, lest startups in the nuclear power industry ecosystem not suffer from a “death valley,” in which they experience a shortage of operational funds within three to five years of establishing a business.
Jun Young-tae, head of the Mutual Growth & Cooperation Department at Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co. (KHNP), spoke about strengthening the ecosystem of the nuclear power industry and nurturing the new nuclear power operation industries.
He said the nation is predicted to be faced with a “dearth of new orders” in 2024. Nuclear power auxiliary equipment makers are on the decline, including cooperative companies of Doosan Heavy Industries & Constructions, he added.
KHNP, narrowing escaping an operating profit loss this year, implements support projects, including the one to provide financial support to companies in the nuclear power ecosystem to sustain them. KHNP was wondering how long they would carry over the money-giving support steps, Jun added.
Officials on hand with the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) and the Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT) came up with plans to nurture next-generation nuclear power, such as small- and medium-size nuclear reactors, nuclear decommissioning industry, the nuclear power technology export industry and other future growth engines.
But people in the nuclear power industry shared the view that if excellent homegrown technologies are utilized in Korea, the order vacuum might be prolonged, related companies will no longer be sustained, and realistic steps need to be taken to give them a kind of work.
Reflecting the gloomy outlook, the MOTIE and the MSIT presented awards to 141 people who contributed to their contribution of the development of the industry, the highest-ever one twice more than 80 prize winners in 2018. MOTIE Minister Sung Yun-mo attended the 2019 anniversary event.
It was the first time the MOTIE minster participated in such a event under the President Moon Jae-in government.
KHNP President Chung Jae-hoon also told the forum KHNP raised its R&D budget to 480 billion won regardless of government budget. No matter what they say, he said, KHNP would continue to provide research on nuclear power and radiation and support while trying to have nuclear and new/renewal energy coexist.