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Republic of Korea

Official Name:
Republic of Korea

National Designated Entity

Type of organisation:
Mr. Jin-Hyuk Choi
Director of Climate Change R&D Team, Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT)
+82 44 202 4511

Energy profile

South Korea (2012)

Energy profile
Energy profile
Extent of network

Electrification rate (2004): 100%Transmission in the country operates in a combination of 765 kV and 345 kV lines to the major distribution networks, and 154/66 kV in the distribution networks themselves.

Renewable energy potential

Solar energyThe southern coastal area has the greatest economic potential for solar thermal, which can be used in greenhouses, fish farms, swimming pools and industrial heat processes.The solar sector went through a phase of remarkable growth in 2008, raising its contribution by 271.8% over the previous year and finishing the 12-month period with 264 GWh generated. The reason for this growth is the connection of 276.3 MWp to the grid during 2008. Grid-connected solar PV in 2009 totalled 430 MW.Wind energyThe south-east of Korea is a good location for offshore wind farms. Wind power is by far and away the most prominent sector as electricity production has been increasing an average of 69% per annum, generating 381 GWh.  South Korea has over a dozen of wind farms, both on- and off-shore. Current installed capacity amounts to approximately 348 MW, with significant potential for the development of further off-shore sites..  The country’s ambitions for wind power are for it to be producing 2,250 MW by 2012. The testing phase for a proposed 2.5 GW off-shore wind farm will commence by 2013, with 20 5 MW turbines being installed, with an aim to reach full capacity by 2019.Tidal energySome parts of the sea around Korea are regarded as ideal spots for the tidal farms to create electricity, because of the huge differences in height between high and low tide, which causes fast tidewater speeds. Two Korean companies, POSCO and Korea South East Power Co., Ltd. have entered into a partnership for the development of tidal and wind technologies. Construction was completed in 2011 of the Lake Sihwa tidal power station, the world’s largest at 254 MW.BiomassElectricity production from biomass systems increased sharply over the past two years (up 71.4% between 2006 and 2007 and up 38.3% between 2007 and 2008) to generate 4 GWh, making biomass the 2nd most prolific renewable resource in the country after hydroelectricity. Development of the technology in the country is occurring rapidly, with 4,000 residential boilers capable of using biomass pellets installed as of 2010, and the country’s first biomass power cogeneration facility projected to come online in the second quarter of 2012, at Donghae. Imported biomass pellets from Canada and Indonesia make up the majority of supply currently.HydropowerHydroelectricity is the country’s top renewable source with 5,6 TWh produced in 2008 (1,2% o the total).  The pumped storage share increased sharply in 2008 (44.8%) as a result of an increase of over 1 TWh produced by this type of power plant. It has been estimated that South Korea has a small-scale hydro potential of up to 1.5GW, and that 198MW could be generated by 2012. Installed capacity represents less than 5% of the domestic potential, indicating significant untapped resources. Five small hydroelectric plants are currently in the project pipeline, as part of the Four Rivers project.GeothermalGeothermal heat pumps are found in over 700 locations throughout the country, and are typically in the 300 to 100 kW size for a total of over 3,000 units. The geothermal resource of the country is insufficient for electricity generation, but current installed thermal capacity amounts to 229.3 MW.

Energy framework

In September 2008, Korea announced a long-term strategy that will determine the direction of its energy policy to 2030. The plan’s long-term energy goals are to:Improve energy efficiency and reduce energy consumption. By 2030, Korea will reduce its energy intensity by 46%, from 341 toe/USD million to 185 toe/USD million. This is expected to result in energy savings of 42 million toe.Increase the supply of clean energy and reduce the use of fossil fuels. By 2030, the share of renewable energy in total primary energy will reach 11% from 2.4% in 2007.Boost the green energy industry. By 2030, Korea’s green energy technologies will be comparable to levels of most advanced economies.Ensure that citizens have access to affordable energy. The government will ensure that energy sources are accessible and affordable to low-income householdsLow Carbon, Green GrowthOn 15 August 2008, Low Carbon, Green Growth was proclaimed as Korea’s new vision. This vision aims to shift the current development model of fossil-fuel dependent growth to an environmentally friendly one. To realize this vision, the Presidential Commission on Green Growth was established in February 2009. The Basic Act on Low Carbon and Green Growth was subsequently submitted and is now pending in congress. This legislation will provide the legal and institutional basis for green growth. To implement the vision of green growth more effectively, the National Strategy for Green Growth was adopted along with the Five-Year Plan for Green Growth in June 2009. The National Strategy for Green Growth is to build a comprehensive, long-term (2009–2050) master plan to address challenges caused by climate change and resource depletion. It consists of three main objectives and 10 policy directions, including:reduction in the use of fossil fuels and the enhancement of energy independencestrengthening the capacity to adapt to climate changemitigation of climate change and achievement of energy independenceeffective reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.South Korea already has FITs in place for wind and solar power; however, from 2012 these will be replaced by a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), approved by the South Korean Assembly in March 2010. This RPS will require the 14 power utilities with capacities exceeding 500 MW in the country to generate 4% of energy from renewable sources by 2015, increasing to 10% by 2022. Effective as of 2012, this program will mandate an additional 350 MW/year of renewable energy capacity until 2016, and 700 MW/year thereafter. In addition to this, all RE technologies receive a 5% tax credit, and in 2009, import duties were halved on all components/equipment used in RE power plants. Government subsidies are also available to local governments of up to 60% for the installation of renewable facilities, as well as offering low interest loans (5.5%-7.5%) to RE projects, including a 5-year grace period followed by a 10-year repayment period.

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