South Korea’s SK Innovation [096770:KS] is expanding its business in environmentally friendly sectors such as small modular reactors (SMRs), batteries, and waste recycling, as reported by Korea Economic Daily on June 13. SK Innovation Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Kim Jun stated that the three sectors are future growth drivers for the company, noting that SMRs, designed to produce less than 500 megawatts (MW) of electricity while emitting less carbon, are of particular interest. The agreement comes after SK Group announced a target to cut 1% of global carbon emissions by 2030.
To take advantage of SMR’s commercial potential, SK Group will invest tens of billions of Korean Won (KRW) in TerraPower, a nuclear power company co-founded by Bill Gates, and take a 10% stake in the company. TerraPower is developing SMRs and announced late last year that it will invest USD4bn with the US Department of Energy to build a 345 MW sodium-cooled fast reactor near Kemmerer, Wyoming. TerraPower was founded in 2006 with USD35m from Bill Gates. South Korea’s energy supplier, Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP), is also entering the SMR sector, with plans to invest KRW400bn (USD310m) to complete SMR design in five years and secure a license in three years. SMRs, a key next-generation energy source with reduced investment costs and lower carbon emissions, are also gaining popularity throughout the world. For example, a UK consortium led by Rolls-Royce [RR:LN] is seeking more than USD500m to manufacture SMRs, with the UK government providing more than half of the funding. The project is expected to assist the UK in meeting its carbon reduction objectives, according to the government.