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South Korea will expand its generation of nuclear power to more than 30% of total energy by 2030, up from 27.4% in 2021, in order to boost energy security and better meet carbon neutrality goals, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy has said. President Yoon Suk-yeol’s government has pledged to reverse the nuclear phase-out policy of the previous administration, rebuild the nuclear industry and support nuclear exports.

According to the new comprehensive energy plan, the government will resume the construction of units 3&4 at the Shin-Hanul NPP, and continue operation of existing reactors. The number of nuclear reactors in South Korea will increase to 28 by 2030 from 24 today. The previous government, by contrast, had sought to cut the nuclear share to 23.9% and decrease the number of reactors in operation to 18 by 2030.

The Yoon government also hopes to export 10 nuclear reactors by 2030 and to earmark KRW400 billion ($308 million) for the development of small modular reactors (SMRs), according to the Ministry. The plan also called for developing the hydrogen industry by securing homegrown key technologies for advanced materials and parts. The blueprint was endorsed during a Cabinet meeting presided over by President Yoon.

The Ministry said the government will announce a detailed plan on the right mix of renewable energy resources by the end of this year in an effort to achieve carbon neutrality. South Korea has pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 40% from 2018 levels by 2030 and reach carbon neutrality by 2050.

"If the plans are implemented without a hitch, our dependence on imported fossil fuels is expected to be reduced to around 60% in 2030 from last year's 81.8%," the Ministry said. "Some 100,000 new jobs likely will be created in the energy sector by 2030, as the number of innovative venture firms will double to 5,000 by that time," it added.

Meanwhile, the ministry will revise previous administration's renewable energy goals, and decide on new targets for solar and wind power. Renewable energy's share in the country's energy mix will be "realistically adjusted to below 30%" by 2030, an Industry Ministry official told Reuters, compared with 6.3% last year, and the previous administration's ambitious 2050 projection of 60.9-70.8%.

However, at present South Korea remains heavily dependent on fossil fuels. Coal will be "reasonably" reduced, while keeping supply-and-demand conditions in consideration, the Ministry added. South Korea is the world's fourth-largest oil importer after China, India and Japan, according to state-run Korea National Oil Corp (KNOC). Korea Gas Corp (KOGAS) is the world's largest single corporate buyer of liquefied natural gas (LNG), a KOGAS spokesperson said.

Date: Friday, 08 July 2022
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