In 2022, South Korea’s economy was ranked 12th in the world in gross domestic product (GDP). The country’s economy is dependent on the export of integrated circuits, cars, passenger and cargo ships, blank audio media, cyclic hydrocarbons, styrene polymers, and synthetic rubber.
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.
In 2017, South Korea President Moon Jae-in announced plans to close all the nation’s nuclear power plants by 2050.
In 2018, the South Korean government implemented an energy policy to use renewable energy to generate 20% of the nation’s electricity by 2030 and 30% to 35% by 2040.
In 2022, newly elected South Korean President Moon Jae-in canceled plans for the nation to close its nuclear power plants. President Moon emphasized that nuclear power is essential for South Korea to reduce greenhouse gas emission and to achieve energy security.
Power Generation Capabilities
In 2021, the Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kepco) used coal (35.7%), liquefied natural gas (29.8%), nuclear energy (25.6 %), renewable energy (7.7%), and oil (1.2%) to generate electricity in the country. Solar, biomass, and wind are the primary types of renewable energy used to generate electricity in South Korea.
Recent renewable energy projects in South Korea include:
- 2,100 MW Floating Solar Project – In December 2022, South Korean multi-national corporation, SK Group commissioned the Saemangeum Solar complex, which is located off the southwestern coast of the nation.
- 1,400 MW Floating Offshore Wind Project – MunmuBaram, a Royal Dutch Shell and Hexicon Korea joint venture company are continuing work on the Donghae Twin Wind Offshore Windproject which is located approximately 35 miles off the southern coast of the country. The project is forecasted to be commissioned by year-end 2026.
- 200 MW Onshore Solar Project – South Korean company, Kepco is continuing work on a solar project, which is located approximately 150 miles south-southeast of the nation’s capital. Seoul. The project is forecasted to be commissioned by July 2023.
- 133 MW Onshore Wind + Solar Project – In January 2021, South Korean engineering company, LS Electric commissioned a hybrid wind-solar project, which is located in the southwestern region of the country.
- 100 MW Onshore Solar Project – In July 2022, South Korean company, Top Solar commissioned a solar project in the southern region of the country.
- 41 MW Floating Solar Project – In November 2021, South Korean engineering firm, Scotra commissioned a floating solar photovoltaic project at the Hapcheon hydropower project in the southeast region of the country.
South Korea imports virtually all the nation’s oil and liquified natural gas for power generation, heating, and transportation. In 2020, South Korea spent U.S. $42.2 Billion for crude oil imports, U.S. $16.3 Billion for liquified natural gas (LNG) imports, and U.S. $12.9 Billion for refined petroleum imports.
On 24 February 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine, resulting in the European Union, United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, and South Korea placing embargos on Russian exports. As a result, the price for crude oil and liquified natural gas both increased by over 50% from May 2021 to May 2022.
South Korea is a densely populated nation, which limits the development of large onshore wind and solar projects. The nation plans to use offshore wind, floating solar and nuclear power to ensure energy security, while lowering greenhouse gas emissions.
Offshore wind and floating solar are now South Korea’s energy future.
Website – “Our Energy Conundrum”
Jack Kerfoot is a scientist, energy expert, and author of the book FUELING AMERICA, An Insider’s Journey and articles for The Hill, one of the largest independent political news sites in the United States. He has been interviewed on over 100 radio and television stations from New York City to Los Angeles on numerous energy related topics.
 World Bank, “Access To Electricity (% Population) – South Korea”
 Gross Domestic Product By Country 2022 – Worldometer
 The Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC) – South Korea
 Carbon Brief “Paris 2015: Tracking Country Climate Pledges”
 Our World In Data, South Korea: Energy Country Profile by Hanna Ritchie and Max Roser
 The Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC) – South Korea Imports