31 August 2017

South Korea announced major shift towards clean energy

In a recent gathering in Sejong, The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy outlined its new policy goals to focus on clean energy production, as part of President Moon Jae-in's nuclear phase out pledge.

After a call of the recently-elected President Moon Jae-in, the country will be pushed away from nuclear and fossil-fuel power urging the coordination between industrial and environment policies as key to the energy sector.

"Industrial and land development cannot achieve sustainable development without considerations for the environment, and environment policies that do not consider the difficulties of development sites and economic realities may become hollow”, the President said during his meeting with officials from the Commerce, Land and Environment Ministries.

All the Ministries were required to brief the President with the new key policy objectives for each respective field.

According to the Energy Ministry, the country’s reliance on renewable energy will be 20 percent by 2030.

The phase out of coal-fired power stations and the improvement in efficiency are expected to cut emissions of pollution materials by half by 2030.

The President added: “To build a safe Republic of Korea and keep pace with the global trend, we cannot but have to implement a great shift in our national energy policy that will reduce nuclear and coal-fired power plants, and implement and increase clean, safe future energy”.

According to 2015 statistics, South Korea imported 98 percent of its fossil fuel consumption needs, and is considered one of the world’s top energy importers.

For the same year, South Korea was ninth-largest energy consumer.

Petroleum and oil products account for 41 percent of the country’s primary energy consumption, coal for 31 percent, natural gas for 14 percent, nuclear for 13 percent and renewable energy sources for just 1 percent- meaning that for the 20 percent target to be achieved, significant new renewable energy projects should be constructed.

South Korea currently operates 24 nuclear reactors and is also building six more nuclear reactors, two of which the President had pledged to halt, if public opinion agreed.

Regarding the nuclear-free policy, the President stated: “Our nuclear-free policy is not aimed at shutting down nuclear power plants that are in operation but to stop building new reactors and stop extending the operation of aged reactors whose design life expires”.

“It is a plan we will have no problem in enduring as it will take place gradually over the next 60 years or more”, he added, responding to recent claims from opposite sides saying that the initiative will cost billions of dollars and will lead in steep increase of electricity prices.

In line with the nuclear-free pledge, the country's oldest nuclear reactor of Kori-i was shut down permanently in June.

If the pledge goes through, South Korea’s atomic power capacity will gradually fall to zero by 2079 when the last atomic plant, the Shin-Hanul 2, reaches the end of its operational life cycle.

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