Korea installs nuclear reactor in Jordan
(The Korea Times)
By Kim Tae-gyu
Korea completed installation of a nuclear reactor for research in Jordan by successfully wrapping up its test run, the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning (MSIP) said Wednesday.
The project for establishing the $161 million Jordan Research and Training Reactor (JRTR) is expected to help Korea win other global bids including the Pallas project in the Netherlands.
To celebrate the completion of the turnkey project, Science Minister Choi Yang-hee took part in a ceremony with Jordan King Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein and other senior officials.
"We will proactively support the safe and efficient operation of the JRTR," Choi said. "In addition, we will partner with Jordan for the country's introduction of nuclear power reactors and its technological development."
The Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI) joined hands with Korea's top-tier builder Daewoo Engineering & Construction to win the JRTR project in the waning days of 2009.
The consortium started work on the 5-megawatt reactor the following year in the northern Jordan city of Irbid, working to extract neutrons for research and medical purposes.
Trained Jordanian operators will run the country's first nuclear reactor although the Korean consortium will provide a helping hand for the next few years.
"This project will go down in history for both sides. The JRTR is the first nuclear reactor for Jordan while it marks Korea's first export of a nuclear reactor composed of homegrown technologies and companies," a KAERI official said.
"It would also underpin our attempt to win other nuclear reactor projects including the lucrative Pallas project whose winner would be picked out of three finalists midway through next year."
Pallas is aimed at building a state-of-the-art nuclear reactor designed to produce medical isotopes and carry out nuclear technology research. It will replace its 50-year-old predecessor.
Three consortiums headed by Korea, France and Argentina are competing to win the two-phase program whose value is expected to total hundreds of millions of dollars.
The Korean one comprises KAERI, Daewoo Engineering & Construction and Hyundai Engineering & Construction.
Korea, which depends on nuclear power to meet around 30 percent of its total electricity demand, has had many achievements in exporting nuclear technologies not only for research reactors but also for commercial ones.
For example, Korea Electricity Power Corp. (KEPCO) is building four nuclear reactors in the United Arab Emirates to finish by 2020. As the largest energy deal in the Middle East, the contract is worth $18.6 billion and its value can double via a follow-up operation deal to be inked separately after completion of the reactors.