10 More Nuclear Plants to Be Built
By Oh Young-jin
Korea plans to build 10 more nuclear power plants by 2030 and to raise its reliance on alternative energy sources five-fold in order to wean itself from fossil fuels.
In a report to President Lee Myung-bak, Knowledge Economy Minister Lee Yoon-ho said Wednesday that a total of 111 trillion won or about $100 billion will be needed to increase the portion of non-fossil energy sources from 4.6 percent of projected overall energy needs at present to 11 percent by 2030. The energy plan covers 22 years starting this year and is up for renewal every five years.
The long-term energy plan is regarded as overly ambitious considering the country lags in the development of new energy sources technology, Critics said it was hastily devised following President Lee’s Aug. 15 Liberation Day speech, which highlighted so-called “green growth” that was more attentive to environmental protection.
At the same time, 11 new nuclear power plants will be built to provide for 59 percent of energy needs, up from the current 36 percent now. Twenty nuclear power plants are in operation at the moment, generating 17,716 mega watts. This accounts for 15 percent of the total energy consumption and 26.7 percent of electricity generation. France, which relies the most heavily among developed countries on nuclear power, produces 43 percent of all its energy generation and 79 percent of electricity through nuclear power, according to 2005 data.
In terms of alternative energy development, the plan sees a whopping 4,400 percent jump in solar energy use; 33-fold for wind power; 19 times for bio-fuels and 51 times for thermal heat.
As part of its solar energy promotion, 1 million households will be designated as “green homes” that will use solar panels as source for heating by 2020. Power plants will be also required to generate portions of their power generation by harnessing bio-fuels, wind and tidal power.
Minister Lee said that of the 100 trillion won needed, 72 trillion will come from the government and 28 trillion won from the private sector. An additional 11.5 trillion won will be spent on research and development.
In order to lay the groundwork for the expansion of nuclear power generation, Lee said that land for 10 nuclear power plants will be secured by 2010, with each being the size of the existing Gori Nos. 3 and 4, and being capable of producing 1.4 million kilowatts.
“The new nuclear power plants will be built to accommodate development demands by residents in the pertinent areas,” the minister said. In an extreme case of “not in my backyard” or nimby phenomenon, residents have shunned the construction of power plants or waste disposal sites with violent demonstrations occurring in the process. Lee’s offer of incentives is intended to stem such public shows of dissatisfaction in advance.
In terms of electricity bills, Lee said that moves will be made to bring the bills to the real costs of power generation by, among other things, cutting down on subsidies.
If the ambitious energy plan is implemented, Korea will be able to save about $34.3 billion in energy imports; reducing its reliance on fossil fuels by 22 percentage points to 61 percent and create nearly 1 million jobs, the ministry said
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