KHNP CEO Whang Joo-ho, left, holds an agreement along with SK Innovation Vice Chairman Kim Jun and TerraPower CEO Chris Levesque at a signing event at the Madison Hotel in Washington on April 26. Photo courtesy of KHNP

Business giants will cooperate in next-generation nuclear reactor supply chain

Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP) announced on April 26 that it had joined hands with SK Inc, SK Innovation, and TerraPower for the small modular reactor (SMR) business.

As the SMR industry is known as the next-generation energy sector, the agreement is geared toward global efforts in securing clean energy sources.

TerraPower is a U.S. company, which has pioneered the market related to SMRs, and SK has vehemently invested in it. KHNP is Korea’s leading nuclear company and exporter.

The World Economic Forum predicts that the SMR market will grow at an average annual rate of 22 percent by 2040, and the National Nuclear Laboratory of the UK expects the SMR market size to reach a maximum of about 630 trillion ($480 billion) by 2035.

KHNP CEO Whang Joo-ho took part in the signing ceremony together with Vice Chairman & CEO of SK Innovation Kim Jun, Head of Green Investment Center of SK Inc. Kim Moo-hwan, and President & CEO of TerraPower Chris Levesque.

The agreement is expected to offer the potential for KHNP to grow its position in North America in the next-generation SMR industry beyond Asia.

In particular, the contract is the first cooperative relationship between KHNP and a 4th generation SMR company and has significant implications for the domestic nuclear power industry to participate in the future global SMR supply chain.

“This agreement is a crucial step towards entering the fourth-generation SMR market. While the agreement is still in its early stages and requires further review, KHNP is expected to take a step toward a mutually beneficial partnership with SK and TP by leveraging its extensive expertise in operating and developing reactors at home and abroad for the past 40 years,” KHNP CEO Whang said.

“In addition, I sincerely hope that the agreement for stable fuel supply will help enhance nuclear cooperation between Korea and the U.S. and contribute to a sustainable and reliable energy security, which has become a major concern after the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine War.”

SK Innovation Vice Chairman Kim also expressed his hopes for the four-way agreement.

“The collaboration between SK, KHNP, and TerraPower is of great significance in strengthening the ROK-US nuclear alliance at a time when the importance of energy security is growing,” he said.

“Through the cooperation between SK, KHNP, and TerraPower in the fourth-generation SMR market, we will help secure the future growth engines of the nuclear industry ecosystem.”