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South Korea

The Republic of Korea is making strides in reducing fossil fuels but still behind on renewables

Wind and solar accounted for just 5.4% (32 TWh) of South Korea’s electricity production in 2022, much less than the global average of 12%. Wind and solar grew by only 6% and 21%, respectively.

As a result, South Korea is out of step with its peers. Slow wind and solar growth means South Korea’s clean electricity transition is well behind the rest of the world. Share of wind and solar in 2022 in other Asian G20 countries like Japan (11%) and India (9%) is much closer to the global average (12%). China, with 14% share of wind and solar, has even surpassed the global average.

However, South Korea was ahead of the rest of the world in nuclear power, producing 28%, or 169 TWh, of the country’s electricity generation in 2022, compared to the global average of 9.2%. The government also aims to increase nuclear’s market share to 30% by 2030 by extending the life of ten older units.

The increase in clean power generation (+14%, +28 TWh) was large enough to meet the country’s entire demand increase (+18 TWh) and made up for the drop in fossil fuels (-10 TWh). 

To be in line with the IEA Net Zero Emissions scenario and to limit global temperature rises to 1.5C, South Korea needs to reach a net zero power sector by 2035. However, its clean power targets are much lower than what the IEA pathway recommends. In an announcement of the of Long-Term Electricity Supply and Demand, South Korea set a target to bring the share of renewable and nuclear power up to 31% and 35% by 2036, respectively. To reach net zero, policy targets for clean power must be increased, along with regulatory and financial support for clean power producers. 

 

Last updated: April 2023

Progress towards 1.5C power sector benchmarks
South Korea
2000–2040


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