Monday, February 26, 2024

S Korea nuclear power running at two-thirds of capacity


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SEOUL: A technical glitch at one unit raised to nearly a third the number of South Korean nuclear reactors that aren’t generating power, and the state nuclear operator extended maintenance at another, further raising the chances for blackouts this winter.
Asia’s fourth largest economy was already worried its power generation capacity might be insufficient over the next few months due to reactors that have been shut by the nation’s safety certificate scandal and by other safety issues.
The reactor where power generation ceased earlier in the day was the second to be hit by a technical glitch in less than a week, bringing to just over 30 per cent the number of South Korea’s 23 nuclear units that are not feeding the supply grid.
Nuclear generation accounts for about a third of South Korea’s electrical supply.
‘Halting nuclear power units is part of normal operation for safety … But power supply will have problems,’ said a spokesman at operator Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP).
KHNP is looking into what caused the shutdown of the power turbine at the 1,000-megawatt Hanbit No.3 reactor, over 250 km southwest of Seoul, the spokesman said.
The reactor is still working normally while the problem is investigated.
The nuclear operator will also extend maintenance at the Hanbit No.4 reactor by two or three weeks, to mid-January from a planned return to operation on January 1. The extension was to repairs cracks found on the reactor head during the scheduled maintenance.
‘We always monitor if reactor heads have any cracks during shutdown periods,’ the spokesman told Reuters by phone.
The Hanbit No.4 unit went through a maintenance shutdown from October 18 of last year through June 10 of this year, also to fix microscopic cracks in its reactor head.
Possibly raising the number of closed units to eight — unless some reactors are restarted — KHNP will go ahead with maintenance for the Hanbit No.5 reactor as scheduled for Dec. 12 through January 19.
Seoul is striving to ensure stable power supply ahead of peak winter demand in January in the wake of cuts in nuclear power supply following a nuclear safety scandal.
Of the nuclear power generators that are now offline, three have been shut since late May because of control cables supplied with fake safety certificates, according to the KHNP spokesman.
A fourth is awaiting an extension of its license after its 30-year life span expired in November of last year; the fifth is the unit with the extended maintenance period; and a sixth was shut automatically last Thursday due to a technical glitch. The schedule for the restart of the sixth is still not clear, the KHNP spokesman said. (PTI)


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