South Korea’s Environmental Quest

The population of the Republic of Korea (South Korea) is approximately 51.28 million people[1]. In 2018, utilities used coal (41.9%), natural gas (26.8%), nuclear energy (23.4%), renewable energy (6.3%) and oil (1.6%) to generate electricity in the country[2]. Solar, wind, and biomass are the primary sources of renewable energy in South Korea.

In 2016, South Korea signed the Paris Climate Agreement, committing to an 37% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions on a business-as-usual case by 2030[3]. The government has implemented a strategic energy plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase renewable energy, minimize growth of nuclear power, and improve energy efficiency.

New, utility scale renewable energy projects in South Korea include:

  • 1,400 MW Floating Offshore Wind ProjectMacquaries’ Green Investment Group (GIG) has commenced work on a 1,400 MW floating offshore wind project 35 miles off the southern coast of South Korea. The project is scheduled to begin operation by year-end 2022.
  • 133 MW Wind + Solar Project – South Korean engineering company, EPC LS Electric has commenced work on hybrid wind-solar project, which will be linked to a 242 MWh energy storage system. The project located in the southwestern region of the country is scheduled to begin operation by year-end 2020.
  • 40 MW Floating Solar Project – South Korean marine engineering firm, Scotra has commenced work on a floating solar photovoltaic project at the Hapcheon hydropower project in the Korean province of Gyeongnam.
  • 25 MW Floating Solar Project – In August 2020, Scotra completed of a floating solar photovoltaic project at a water reservoir in the Korean province of Jeonnam.

South Korea has the eleventh largest economy in the world and imports virtually all fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, and oil). The country is one of the most densely populated developed countries in the world. South Korea’s government is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and toxic air pollution. However, the country is facing a daunting environmental challenge due to the country’s reliance on fossil fuels, small area and high population density.

Jack Kerfoot

Website – “Our Energy Conundrum”

[1] South Korea Population (2020) –  August 29, 2020

[2] South Korea: Electricity Generation By Type 2018, Statista, April 21, 2020

[3] Carbon Brief “Paris 2015: Tracking Country Climate Pledges”

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