President Moon Jae-in, who was elected in May on a platform that included shutting down nuclear and coal-fired plants, said the country would now “end the nuclear-oriented power generation plan and pave the way for a nuclear-free era”.
Speaking at the official shutdown of the 587 MW Kori 1 reactor in Busan city, Moon said the government would “withdraw existing plans to build new nuclear power plants and not extend the lifespan of nuclear power plants”.
The Kori 1 pressurized water reactor, which came online in 1978, was taken off the grid over the weekend by operator Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power and is planned to be fully dismantled by 2032 according to a statement from the energy ministry. The plant had been given a 10-year life extension in 2007.
Moon said the country’s second-oldest reactor, the 657 MW Wolsong 1, will be next for shutdown as long as doing so does not threaten energy security. The reactor came online in 1989 and was scheduled to operate until 2022 after a licence extension in 2015.
And the Korean-designed Shin Kori 5 and 6 APR1400 reactors (pictured, artist’s rendition), which are currently being built, could be stopped after a government review of construction and compensation costs is completed.
South Korea is the world’s fifth-largest nuclear power producer, with 25 operational reactors supplying around one-third of its energy mix.