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South Korea Bets Big On Nuclear Energy At The Expense Of Renewables

South Korea will rely more on nuclear power generation in its efforts to reach net zero by 2050, according to its latest plan, which envisages a lower share of renewable power generation in the electricity mix.  

South Korea will aim to have nuclear energy account for nearly one-third of its electricity generation capacity by 2030, while renewables are set to meet 21.6% of power demand, down from a previous forecast of just over 30%, per government documents released on Thursday and quoted by Bloomberg.

In earlier plans, South Korea was targeting a 24% share of nuclear power generation capacity.

Currently, 25 reactors provide about one-third of South Korea’s electricity from 23 GWe of plant, according to the World Nuclear Association.

President Yoon Suk-yeol, elected in March 2022, scrapped his predecessor’s policy to phase out nuclear energy over some 45 years. The new president has set a target for nuclear to provide at least 30% of the country’s electricity in 2030.

South Korea’s latest plan also calls for a lower share of LNG in the power generation mix as part of the country’s net-zero targets, as many countries have moved to bolster their energy security after the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the market turmoil that followed.

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, many Western allies of the U.S. and the EU have stepped up efforts to ensure energy security and depend less on energy commodities. Many of those have chosen to rely more on nuclear energy.

Just this week, Sweden’s government proposed changes in the current legislation to allow the construction and operation of more nuclear reactors as it looks to strengthen its energy security.

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Even Japan is bringing back nuclear power as a key energy source, looking to protect its energy security in the crisis that has led to surging fossil fuel prices. The Japanese government confirmed in December a new policy for nuclear energy, which the country had mostly abandoned since the Fukushima disaster in 2011. A panel of experts under the Japanese Ministry of Industry decided that Japan would allow the development of new nuclear reactors and allow available reactors to operate after the current limit of 60 years. 

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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