The appearance of a new document designed to define the state strategy of South Korea in the field of electricity consumption and generation was reported simultaneously by almost all the leading media of the country, referring to the main theses of the plan that came to their disposal. The document is called “The Unified government scenario of carbon Neutrality till 2050”. It was compiled by several dozen experts working in the state structures of the ROK or especially attracted to develop a plan.
The content of the document, although, as it is emphasized, “is of a preliminary nature and can be adjusted,” has surprised independent experts a lot with its radicality. According to the strategy of the current leadership of the ROK, which has set a goal to achieve a state of “carbon neutrality” by 2050, South Korea should reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere by 90 percent.
To achieve this goal, South Korea, according to the proposed plan, should completely abandon the use of coal for electricity generation, significantly reduce the use of natural gas and peaceful nuclear energy.
At the same time, it is worth noting that in 2018, which is taken as a baseline for the development of the “Carbon Neutrality Scenario”, South Korea received almost 42% of all electricity consumed from coal.
The share of electricity generated by burning natural gas should be reduced from the current 26.8 to 7.5%. The share of Atom in electricity generation will be reduced from the current 23 to 7%. South Korea should abandon the construction of new nuclear power units, gradually preserving those that will serve their time.
As a result, by 2050, only nine nuclear power units out of the current 24 should remain in operation in the ROK.
As a result, there may be a huge shortage of electricity in the country, which, according to experts, South Korea will consume 2.3 times more in 2050 than in 2018. It is proposed to compensate for the shortage in two ways, the main of which is the large-scale construction of infrastructure that will use wind and solar energy.
If South Korea meets 3% of its needs at the expense of new and renewable energy sources (primarily wind and solar), then in 2050 their share should be 61% of the total electricity generation. In absolute terms, the growth of electricity generation due to wind and solar will be 64 times.
In addition, it is also proposed to fill some of the electricity deficit by importing it from Russia and China, reviving the idea of a “regional electric super grid” that has been repeatedly discussed. The document includes imports from the Russian Federation and China at the level of several tens of terawatt-hours per year.
Some independent experts of South Korea criticized this plan, calling it “fantastic”.
Experts are primarily confused by the abrupt rejection of traditional energy sources and their replacement with wind and solar energy, which are known to be unstable.
According to critics, due to the relatively small territory, South Korea simply will not be able to accommodate the number of new wind turbines and solar panels necessary for the implementation of the indicators laid down in the plan.
The idea of importing electricity from Russia and China has also been criticized.
This proposal cannot be implemented without laying a power line through the territory of North Korea, the actions of which Seoul cannot predict, and inter-Korean relations are often, to put it mildly, difficult.
In addition, cooperation with the participation of the DPRK cannot be carried out without the lifting of international sanctions against Pyongyang and the solution of the North Korean nuclear problem.
Despite this fact, the document “Unified Government Scenario of Carbon Neutrality 2050” is “preliminary” and is expected to become the main general strategy of South Korea’s electricity generation for the period up to 2050.
Now the plan must undergo a study and evaluation procedure in the relevant departments and state structures of South Korea, which can offer to adjust the provisions of the plan.
Note: The writer is an international Business Consultant on Trade and Renewable Energy projects and the Chairwoman of Royal Touch Ceylon Tea (Pvt) Ltd.