Keen to enter India's growing nuclear market, South Korea wants to build an atomic power plant here but India is not rushing into it.
The government first wants to complete the projects already initiated, including Koodankulam III and IV and Jaitapur, which are facing hurdles on various counts. However, India is willing to have cooperation with South Korea in other aspects of the nuclear field, like research.
South Korea conveyed its desire to build a nuclear plant in India when a delegation from its Ministry of Science came here recently, sources told PTI.
This was preceded by a visit of a team of Department of Atomic Energy to South Korea to discuss possible cooperation in the nuclear field in November last year.
Sources said India not very keen to have Korean nuclear reactors immediately. The DAE first wants to concentrate on existing plants and deal with the issues like liability over which many foreign collaborators have raised questions. "We would first want to clear the impediments for projects that are already in pipeline and then move on to another projects," said a senior DAE official. Currently, all the power plants are running behind schedule.
The Jaitapur Nuclear Power Plant Project (JNPP) being built with French assistance, the unit 3 and 4 of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP) with Russian assistance and the Mithi Virdhi nuclear plant with the assistance of the US are either stuck because of various reasons or running behind schedule.
The official pointed out that there are other aspects India may be looking at in the field of nuclear arena. "Like India, Korea too has a developed its own nuclear technology and there are many aspects of cooperation, which India is looking at to start with. We are primarily looking at cooperation in Research and Development. Anyway, they have started with their work on building a plant for the United Arab Emirates. We are waiting for results and can then take a plunge," the official said.
Another senior DAE official said cost-wise South Korea is more competitive than what the US or the French are offering, but India wants to go slow on this because of the pending projects. "Cooperation with Korea is easy as both countries have signed a Civil Nuclear Cooperation agreement in July 2011. So there is a document in place and we don't need to worry about that like the way we have to do in case of Japan," the official said.
He added that if the deal with Japan is delayed or does not happen, then Korea could be a possible partner from where it can source equipments. "The vital parts for the reactors which the French and the Americans are building are going to be sourced from Japan. This is why everyone is hard pressed about having a deal with Japan. But if this does not work then Korea could be a possible option. Korea, however, an option if things do not work out," said an official.
Globally, South Korea ranks fifth in terms of electricity generation from nuclear power. It not only has technology, but most of it has been indigenous. Its domestic market is also increasing rapidly and is now focusing to target the global market.
It has 23 nuclear power plants which produce 20,716 MW of electricity. According to its National Energy Plan (2008-2030) it is expected to increase its electricity from nuclear share to 59% by 2030.
It also intends to venture into the global market, which for all these years have been dominated by France, the US and Russia.
In the last decade, it won the contract to provide research reactor to Jordan and is building a nuclear power plant for the UAE with its APR-1400 reactor.