South Korea’s has a long-term commitment to “green growth” judging by its current policies and other efforts, the International Energy Agency said in its recent review of the country’s policies.
A key government goal is to slash carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2020 from its business as usual case.
The South Korean government has also established an 11 percent renewable energy goal in its total primary energy supply by 2030, identifying some key technologies such as solar thermal, photovoltaics, geothermal and bioenergy.
Currently, the share of renewables in South Korea’s total primary energy supply is the lowest among member nations of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
“The country has made efforts to improve energy security, including measures to diversify its energy mix, reduce the use of fossil fuels and encourage the development of renewable energy sources,” said the I.E.A.
The I.E.A acts as the energy adviser for the members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the economic organization of the world’s leading industrialized nations, of which South Korea is a member.
Investment in energy-related research and development in the country has also reportedly amounted to over 600 billion Korean won ($554 million) in 2010.
“Korea has taken great steps to enhance energy security and to foster the development of new and renewable energy alongside the expansion of its energy-related R and D program, which is one of the largest in the I.E.A.,” said the agency’s executive director Maria van der Hoeven.
Earlier this year, the country made its biggest emissions reduction move – the unveiling of a national emissions trading system for major business emitters, a first-of its kind in Asia, which will come into force in 2015.
The I.E.A. said the country should elaborate on the details of the new cap-and-trade scheme and provide more clarity on how it will work once implemented.
“Korea must also take steps to ensure that the design of the scheme complements other policies such as its renewable energy target, nuclear energy expansion and the move towards a more competitive market-based approach in the electricity and gas sectors,” it added.
Energy efficiency policies have also been put in place by the government, pushing several measures across the transport and building sectors.
In July 2009, the country launched a new fuel economy standard for car manufacturers and importers, specifying 17 kilometers per liter or carbon emissions of 140 grams per kilometer by 2015. This is said to be similar to United States and the European Union standards.
Meanwhile, a “performance-based” energy code, which limits overall energy consumption per unit area, has covered all commercial buildings having more than 10,000 square meters since July 2011.
In the report, the I.E.A. recommended the consolidation of South Korea’s progress so far to come up with an integrated energy efficiency strategy which will complement the emissions trading scheme.
This will reportedly improve the effectiveness of its energy efficiency policies, with measurable sector targets, particularly for transport, industry and utilities.
The world’s thirteenth-largest economy and the seventh-largest exporter, South Korea is an energy-intensive country.
In 2008, the country started adopting a long-term green growth strategy to endorse economic development through low-carbon technologies and clean energy. – EcoSeed Staff