South Korea confirms energy policy favouring renewables

12 May 2020


South Korea has reaffirmed plans to phase out of nuclear energy despite rising losses at state utility firms.

The ninth long-term plan envisages reducing dependence on nuclear and fossil fuels from 46.3% today to 24.8% by 2034 while expanding dependence on renewables from 15.1% to 40%.

According to the plan announced by a working group under the Ministry of Trade Industry and Energy, the government plans to close all coal-fired power plants that are 30+ years old by 2034, and replace them with liquefied natural gas (LNG). It will also reduce the number of nuclear reactors to 17 by 2034 from a peak of 26 in 2024.

The working group has held 51 meetings since March to draw up a basic energy supply arrangement. The latest announcement is a draft of the 2020-2034 plan.

The working group projected that maximum power demand would reach 104.2GWe in 2034 and annual average growth in maximum power supply would reach 1% - 0.3 percentage points below the previous projection in the eighth long-term basic plan.

The working assumed the economy would grow 2.8% as projected by the Finance and Economy Ministry’s short-term plan for 2021-2023 and 1.4% and 2.5% as projected by the Korea Development Institute’s mid- to long-term forecast. For this year, the working group noted the 2% economic growth forecast by the Bank of Korea in the context of the coronavirus outbreak.

Closing all coal power plants whose operational life-cycle reaches 30 years by 2034 would lead to operational suspension of 30 of 60 coal-fired power plants. Of these, 24 units will be used as LNG power plants to ensure stable power supply.

The government expects to be able to achieve its goal announced in July 2018 of reducing domestic greenhouse gas emissions by 32.5% by 2030.

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