Atoms and Emissions on the Peninsula

Atoms and Emissions on the Peninsula

While earlier this month tanks were effectively demolishing Russia's recent "123 Agreement" on civilian nuclear trade with the United States, the U.S.' newest free-trade agreement partner, South Korea, announced a new long-term energy plan that calls for a substantial shift to nuclear power generation. The U.S.-Korea FTA is still bottled up on Capitol Hill and an implementation date is uncertain. Meanwhile, Seoul (the globe's 13-th largest economy by output) started FTA negotiations with the European Union. Thus, Seoul's Basic National Energy Plan for 2008-2030 might some spark some interest.

Details of the plan in English are not yet widely available — readers who can read Korean more on the report here — but one press report I saw cited Seoul's intention to build 10-11 new nuclear power plants in the next two decades. According to the press report, South Korea is already the world's fifth largest producer of nuclear-powered electricity (from 20 reactors currently in operation) and has three more reactors already under construction. The Plan also envisions a significant (over-five-fold) increase in non-hydro renewable energy generation by 2030.

In addition, the Seoul has introduced legislation to require industrial policy programs to include GHG reductions and to enable the government to slap specific businesses with GHG reduction requirements.

The Plan, released August 13, is intended to play a major role in the country's efforts to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. (South Korea is the world's tenth largest producer of GHGs.) More detais on South Korea's current energy mix are available from the Korea Energy Economics Institute, one of the Plan's authors.   

One last tidbit: According to 2007 trade statistics, the U.S. electroindustry maintains a trade surplus with South Korea.

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