By 2030, the Ministry of Nuclear Energy wants it to make up at least 30% of the country’s power generation — a step up from its previous target of 27%.
To achieve this, South Korea is resuming construction of two new reactors at the Hanul Nuclear Power Plant on the country’s east coast. Construction of the two reactors has been on hold since 2017, when former President Moon Jae-in – who lobbied hard to phase out nuclear power – took office.
But with a new president in office, South Korea’s nuclear industry is back at full speed.
Yoon Seok Yeol, who took office in May, criticized Moon’s stance on nuclear power and expressed support for the faltering industry throughout his election campaign.
“Because of the excessive pressure on the phase-out of nuclear weapons, the best nuclear technology in the world has been destroyed,” Yun said in a Facebook post in February before the election, adding that he wanted to “build a nuclear power.”
The Energy Department said Tuesday that work on the new reactors follows the “highest decision-making procedures of the Yoon administration,” adding that it will investigate how to handle “high-level radioactive waste.”
The Energy Ministry said Tuesday that the country will continue to work on phasing out coal, and aims to reduce imports of fossil fuels to 60% of the country’s total energy supply by 2030 – compared to 81.8% in 2021.
But the influx of investment in nuclear power may come at the expense of other renewable energy efforts, with the department saying its renewable targets will be “reset.” He did not give specific numbers for the new targets.
“The specific ratio of different energy sources, such as solar and wind (marine) energy, must be determined to achieve the best results,” the ministry said. “The use of carbon-free energy sources must take into account technological conditions.”
She added that a “reasonable and reasonable energy mix” should be created.
During his presidency, Moon pledged to make the country carbon-neutral by 2050, shifting the energy balance away from nuclear power and fossil fuels toward renewables and natural gas. His range of initiatives included promoting renewable energy production and the use of electric vehicles.
The use of nuclear power came into question around the world after the meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi plant, following a devastating earthquake and tsunami in 2011. Some countries, including Germany, pledged to phase them out completely.
But in South Korea, nuclear power has long been a big business. The country lacks natural resources and is highly dependent on importing energy supplies from other countries.
According to the World Nuclear Association, 25 domestic nuclear power plants provide about a third of South Korea’s electricity needs.
The country is also a major exporter of nuclear technology to the world, and is involved in building the first nuclear power plant in the United Arab Emirates.
Additional reporting by Reuters.