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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

SMART SMR Moves Ahead - in Saudi Arabia and at Home

SMART SMR Nuclear Plant Integrated Design Concept, courtesy KAERI
It has been announced that South Korea and Saudi Arabia have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which includes the construction of SMART Small Modular Reactor nuclear plants.

This follows the formation in January of a separate company to promote export of the SMART SMR.  See the text of Korea Atomic Energy Institute's press release on the formation of SMART Power Company below:


{SPC (SMART Power Co.), an entity responsible for the export of the indigenously developed 100MWe small integral reactor SMART was launched on January 29, 2015.

SPC’s full-fledged activities began with the opening ceremony that took place at its head office building in S Tower, Gwanghwamun, Seoul, with the attendance of important figures from politics and finance such as the invested companies’ CEO, former Prime Minister, lawmakers as well as relevant people from Office for Government Policy Coordination, MSIP and KAERI.

SMART is an integral-type small reactor, developed in 2012 after 15 years of research. It received the first-ever Standard Design Approval (SDA) from a regulatory body for a 100MWe (330MWth) integral reactor. SMART generates only a 1/10 of a large nuclear plant (over 1,000 MWe), but since it is an integral-type reactor it has enhanced the inherent safety by containing  major  components such as a pressurizer, steam generator, and reactor coolant pumps in a single reactor pressure vessel.  It was designed especially for export and can supply a city with a population of 100,000 with 90 Mw electricity and 40 thousand tons of fresh water per day concurrently. .

SPC, founded with the investment of capital and manpower from 6 corporations, including POSCO E&C, PONU Tech, and DAEWOO E&C, will make its proactive activities to promote the export of SMART by devising customized export strategies aligned with the demands of potential importers and by carrying out PR and joint feasibility studies in these countries.

MSIP plans to  form a government-supported consultative body  with the Office for Government Policy Coordination, the Ministry of Trade, Industry & Energy (MOTIE) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) to support SMART export cooperation activities and private businesses.

Keung Koo  Kim, Director  of the SMART Development Division, mentioned that "the potential importers of SMART are countries with small scale electric power grids, countries with scattered population that have difficulty in building grids for a large scale nuclear plant, or those with water shortages" and also pointed out that " Middle East countries that need seawater desalination facilities are one of the prime potential importers." }


It might go without saying, but it was necessary for KAERI - who developed the SMART SMR in the first place - to find some other outlet if it wished this design to move forward, since KEPCO (Korea Electric Power Company) had no desire to build small power plants in the size range SMART would provide.  Proof of this can be found in the ever-increasing size of plants being put on the South Korean grid -- now, the units under construction are model APR1400 which will deliver 1400 MWe to the grid, not the 100 MWe promised by the SMART single unit plant.

SMART SMR exterior view and cutaway (courtesy KAERI) shows classic iPWR configuration
According to early reporting of the deal by Korea Herald the MOU will see a three year development program launched, which will determine feasibility of building SMART SMR nuclear plants in Saudi Arabia.  The feasibility studies will be done by 2018 under this agreement; if plans go forward with one to two units the contracts (again according to early reporting) could amount to as much as $2 billion.

Alan Ahn of the Global America Business Institute, Washington D.C. observes that with "100% Korean technology, a US type 1-2-3 agreement is not required."  Ahn points out that the lack of such agreements definitely "poses barriers" for export of nuclear plants incorporating US technology. 

It is beginning to appear if South Korea is "hitting on all cylinders" now when it comes to nuclear plant export.  The APR1400 plants at Barakah, UAE are on time and on budget.  Now, a MOU (which definitely is not an order for plants, but is definitely the first step) for the KAERI designed SMR is on the books and real, meaningful work studying the construction of power plants using this design in arid locations is about to begin.

I will follow this development and update the story as other details emerge.

1:42 PM Eastern 3/3/2015

1 comment:

  1. Excellent news. Go, South Korea.

    It is a shame that such vision and ambition can't be exercised in the USA.