Atomic dawn – KEPCO wins a nuclear contract

(South) Korean reactors trump Western ones – Published on The Economist, Dec. 30, 2009.

… Competition for the contract had been stiff. GE and Hitachi, two engineering giants, had launched a joint bid, as had a consortium led by France’s nuclear champion, Areva. France’s president, Nicolas Sarkozy, had lobbied energetically on behalf of the latter group. But South Korea’s president, Lee Myung-bak, was equally keen. As a former boss of Hyundai Construction, he has first-hand experience both of vying for contracts in the Gulf and of building nuclear plants. Mr Lee is said to have promised to share some tips on boosting manufacturing, a fond ambition of the Emirates.

But the chief allure of the Korean bid was price. It was reportedly billions of dollars cheaper than the others, albeit for smaller and less hardened plants. KEPCO’s nuclear subsidiary, which runs 20 nuclear plants in South Korea and plans to build 20 more, has a record of building reactors quickly and running them efficiently—unlike many of its Western counterparts … (full text).

(My comment: this means, lower and lower prices for export goods will become an increasing problem for western workers).

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