SEOUL, June 29 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's Industry Minister Lee Chang-yang has promoted the country's capabilities in the nuclear energy field during his visit to the Czech Republic to win a new power plant project there, his office said Wednesday.
South Korea is currently bidding on the European nation's 8 trillion won (US$6.19 billion) project to build an additional reactor in its southern region of Dukovany.
During a meeting with his Czech counterpart, Jozef Sikela, on Tuesday, Lee stressed Seoul's advanced nuclear power technologies and management prowess, which were shown through the Barakah project in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.
Under the 2009 contract, South Korea built four nuclear reactors in Barakah, 270 kilometers west of Abu Dhabi. In March, the No. 2 Barakah reactor began commercial operations about a year after the operation of the first unit.
"A nuclear power generation project requires more than a decade for construction and involves operations for more than 60 years. South Korea is a reliable partner in terms of economic feasibility, safety, and ensuring the construction period," Lee said.
The Czech Republic launched a tender for the Dukovany project in March, and Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co. (KHNP), U.S. Westinghouse and France's EDF have passed a security appraisal.
Participants have to submit preliminary bids by November, and the winning bidder is expected to be selected by around 2024, the KHNP said.
During the meeting, the two ministers also agreed to boost cooperation in the small modular reactors (SMR) sector and hydrogen, as well as in such key industries as electric vehicles, batteries, semiconductors and military equipment.
They decided to hold working-level meetings for follow-up discussions at an early date, the ministry said.
South Korea's new Yoon Suk-yeol government has been actively pushing to revive its nuclear energy industry, reversing the former government's nuclear phase-out policy.
On Tuesday, Lee also met with Milos Vystrcil, the Czech Senate president, and explained the country's nuclear energy policy and technology capabilities, and asked for parliamentary cooperation for deepening bilateral industry ties, according to the ministry.
The senate president asked for South Korea's attention to the potential establishment of a direct flight route between the two nations and the establishment of a Korean cultural center in his country, as well as Seoul's possible extended support for Ukraine.
On Monday, the two ministers and some 400 officials in the nuclear power generation sector from the two nations held a joint session meant to deepen their relationship.
During the event, the two nations signed a total of 10 memoranda of understanding on nuclear energy and hydrogen fields, which involved nine South Korean companies and institutions, including top carmaker Hyundai Motor Co., and 21 Czech entities, the ministry said.
Lee is in the Czech Republic for a three-day visit, which will be followed by a two-day stay in Poland. It is his first overseas trip since taking office last month.
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