Japan's nuclear crisis could result in a two to three year setback in the nuclear power reactor market, but demand will rise in the longer term, a senior executive at Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) told Reuters.
"Japan's crisis may affect the market in the next two to three years but in a few decades nuclear power demand will rise due to a lack of alternative energy," Byun Jun-yeon, executive vice president and chief nuclear project officer at state-run utility KEPCO, told Reuters in an interview.
He said renewable energy would continue to play only a supplementary role due to its poor economics. China may currently appear to be scaling back its nuclear power plans, "but can't stop, because it's hard to meet their huge energy demand without nuclear reactors, and thermal coal power generation also emits carbon," Byun added.
China last month froze nuclear approvals for new and proposed nuclear plants in the wake of the Japan crisis.
Byun said that Brazil, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Argentina and South Africa were preparing tenders for nuclear reactors which could come by the end of this year. He declined to discuss specific deals, but said KEPCO was aiming to win tenders and that Saudi Arabia had evaluated KEPCO's reactor operation technologies highly compared with other countries.
"Reactor importers want models which guarantee safety, economics and efficiency...they also want builders who can help them run reactors at least 20 to 30 years later," Byun said. "South Korea has no accident records in its nearly 40-year reactor operation history," he said.
KEPCO has been aiming to win overseas orders for a total of ten nuclear reactors by 2020. The United Arab Emirates in December 2009 awarded a $20bn contract to build four 1400 MW reactors, the largest energy deal in the Middle East, to a KEPCO-led Korean consortium.