The working group for the establishment of the Third National Energy Plan submitted its recommendations to the Ministry of Trade, Industry & Energy on Nov. 7, proposing to raise Korea’s renewable energy-based power generation ratio from 7.6% in 2017 to 25%-40% by 2040.
“We proposed 40% at first, but adjusted it based on an economic feasibility and viability examination,” said Kim Jin-woo, head of the working group. This means the ministry, which is going to finalize a new national energy plan based on the recommendations, now has more room for a slower nuclear power phase-out. The new plan covers the period from 2019 to 2040.
The previous recommendation for raising the ratio to at least 40% by 2040 has been doubted by many. At present, the South Korean government’s goal is to reach at least 20% by 2030. Experts note that even the 20% goal is not easy to attain, given the current ratio of 7.6%.
They say it is difficult to increase the ratio in a short span of time. They cite grid connection as the biggest hurdle. According to data from the Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEPCO), 2,401 MW of renewable energy-based power could not be connected to electric power transmission systems as of May this year, with 99% of the total being power from solar heat and solar power, the renewable energy sources where the government has been concentrating its investment. Grid connection failure means useless power generation.
The other obstacles include people’s objections to alternative power generation projects for reflected light, environmental damage, and for various reasons. Besides, KEPCO’s deficits are highly likely to snowball unless the cost of renewable energy-based power generation falls below that of highly economical nuclear power generation.
The working group also advised the government to ensure that an increase in energy consumption is minimized based on energy efficiency improvement, electricity price adjustment, and other measures.
At the same time, the working group advised the government to reduce the energy sector’s greenhouse gas emissions from 601 million tons in 2015 to 536.5 million tons in 2030, reduce the power generation sector’s particulate matter emissions from 34,000 tons in 2017 to 13,000 tons in 2030, and reduce the transportation sector’s particulate matter emissions from 34,000 tons in 2017 to 27,000 tons in 2030.