January 14, 2010 11:41
The government has decided to boost nuclear power-related products as the country's next major export item after automobiles, semiconductors and ships. It has set a target of exporting 80 nuclear plants by 2030 and plans to invest W500 billion (US$1=W1,126) into research and development of nuclear technology over the next seven years. Under the plan a graduate school specializing in nuclear technology will open in Korea in September of next year, and 10 other universities will be designated to offer specialized classes in that field.
The Knowledge and Economy Ministry announced the ambitious plan at an emergency economic meeting led by President Lee Myung-bak held at the construction site of two nuclear reactors in Ulsan on Wednesday. The reactors are the same model as the APR1400 that will be exported to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) under a mega-deal signed last month.
The ministry aims to export 10 plants by 2012 and 80 by 2030, taking up 20 percent of the global market and making Korea one of the world's top three nuclear plant exporters. If the goal is achieved, the orders will bring in US$400 billion, which is more than the country's total exports of $363.8 billion last year, and create 75,000 jobs each year.
The ministry plans to invest W99.6 billion by 2012 to become self-sufficient in developing core technologies, including reactor design codes and coolant pumps. Another W400 billion will be invested over seven years starting in 2011 to extend the lifespan of nuclear plants and shorten construction time.
"The nuclear plant industry has tremendous growth potential, offering huge returns for small investments and contributing to the creation of jobs," Lee said. "We must explore opportunities not only in developing markets but advanced countries as well."
Meanwhile, Vice Knowledge and Economy Minister Kim Young-hak said, "We will endeavor to secure more nuclear deals by combining capital from the UAE with our technology, thereby turning the UAE into the Middle East's nuclear power hub."
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