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South Korea May Speed Up Renewable Energy Shift Under Proposal

May 11, 2020


South Korea could ramp up its shift toward renewable power, and away from coal and nuclear, under a proposal by a government working group tasked with helping shape its energy future.

The group, advising the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, has proposed aiming for renewable sources to account for 40% of the nation’s power by 2034. The current plan targets 20% by 2030.

Governments, companies and financial institutions are under pressure to move away from carbon-emitting fossil fuels as warnings over the pace of global warming grow more dire.

South Korea is crafting its new energy mix in the wake of the landslide election victory last month of President Moon Jae-in’s Democratic Party, which campaigned pledging a “Green New Deal” that promised to end the country’s net carbon emissions by 2050.

The proposal, reported earlier by Yonhap News Agency, come as the ministry drafts a new version of the country’s so-called 9th Basic Plan for Long-term Electricity Supply and Demand.

An official from the ministry’s electricity division, who asked not to be identified, said the group’s proposal would be considered when determining the final plan. The official provided no timing of when a plan would be complete.

The 2034 proposed targets for power generation include:

NEW TARGET FOR 2034 CURRENT TARGET FOR 2030 CURRENT SHARE
Renewables 40% 20% 15.1%
Gas 31% 18.8% 32.3%
Coal 14.9% 36.1% 27.1%
Nuclear 9.9% 23.9% 19.2%
Others 4.1% 0.8% 6.3%

Yoo Seung-hoon, a professor at Seoul National University of Science & Technology and the chairman of the working group, said during a briefing Friday in Seoul that the plan has aimed “in the direction of accelerating the transition to environment-friendly power generation, such as drastically curtailing coal-fired plants.”

The proposal also includes permanently closing about 30 coal-fired power plants, out of the nation’s 60, that will reach their natural retirement age by 2034, though 24 of them would be converted to run on gas, according to the Yonhap report.

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