It has been two years since South Korean Government announced its ‘Renewable Energy 3020’ implementation plan as part of its energy ecosystem transformation policy. Biggest framework of the implementation plan is to increase the percentage of renewable energy up to 20% by 2030. South Korea’s energy policy has been pushing ‘clean energy system transformation centered on renewable energy’ since 2008 and it has presented a specific direction when South Korean Government announced a ‘energy transformation’ roadmap in October of 2017. ‘Renewable Energy 3020’ implementation plan, which was announced in December of the same year, is South Korean Government’s plan to implement its energy transformation policy.
◊South Korean Government to focus on increasing percentages of clean energy used as renewable energy
Amount of generation of renewable energy and capacity of energy facilities in 2016 were only 7.0% and 12% respectively. The amount of generation of renewable energy falls greatly short compared to the amounts of generation in Germany (29.3%), United Kingdom (24.7%), Japan (15.9%), and the U.S. (14.9%).
Major sources of renewable energy until the end of 2016 were waste (58%) and bio-products (16%) while the percentages of solar power and wind power, which are considered as clean energy, were only 13% and 4% respectively.
‘Renewable Energy 3020’ implementation plan focuses on increasing the percentage of renewable energy. Its goal is to increase the amount of generation of renewable energy, which was only 7.0% by the end of 2016, up to 10.5% and 20% by 2022 and 2030 respectively. South Korean Government has also set up a plan to increase the capacity of renewable energy facilities from 13.3GW in 2016 to 27.5GW in 2022. Its ultimate goal is to increase the capacity up to 63.8GW by 2030.
Another task is to increase the percentages of solar power and wind power as sources of renewable energy that is mainly comprised of wastes and bio-products. South Korean Government has set a plan to supply clean energy such as solar power and wind power to more than 95% of new facilities. By 2030, its plan is to supply 30.8GW of solar power (63%) and 6.5GW of wind power (34%) as sources of 48.7GW of estimated capacity of generating units.
Aside from large-scale projects, South Korean Government and cooperatives are also planning to increase projects that will involve the public in order to implement its ‘Renewable Energy 3020’ policy. Also, it is planning to push for construction of large-scale solar power generators and offshore wind power generators by increasing duty rates from major power companies’ RPS (Renewable Portfolio Standard) by stages and promote relevant industries by increasing domestic materials and equipment use.

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◊Solar power generation cruising while wind power generation making a slow progress
Capacity of generating units increased by 3.2GW by the end of November and such increased capacity already exceeds South Korean Government’s goal for this year that is 2.4GW. In case of solar power generating units, capacity of these units increased by 2.0GW by the end of July resulting in 100% achievement of South Korean Government’s goal for this year.
By the end of November, distribution rate of solar power was 174%. South Korean Government has been achieving its goal for distribution rate as last year’s distribution rate of renewable energy was also 172.0%.
As the number of solar power generating units has increased drastically, an issue regarding damaging mountain areas is also expected to be resolved.
The percentage of solar power generating units installed in forests and fields, which was 36.2% in 2017, decreased from 30.4% in last year to 30.3% this year. On the other hand, the percentage of solar power generating units installed in farmlands increased from 23.6% in 2017 to 29.1% this year. As more units are built in farmlands, there are less concerns for landslide and damage to the forest.
The percentage of domestic products used for generating units has also increased. While the percentage of domestic solar modules decreased last year, it has increased to 78.7% this year. The percentage of domestic wind turbines has also increased from 39.2% last year to 59.8% this year.
Fact that there is an increase in the number of new solar power generating units under 1MW is also a noticeable change. The number of small solar power generating units is increasing steadily as they take up 80.2% of entire solar power generating units. On the other hand, the number of large solar power generating units over 3MW has increased by 383MW. They take up 12.1% of entire solar power generating units.
As industries related to renewable energy continue to grow, South Korean Government is expecting positive economic effects such as exportation and increased jobs.
It is shown that the amount of exportation related to solar power in 2017 was $3.15 billion (3.674 trillion KRW) and that 7,522 jobs were created as a result of solar power. Also, the amount of exportation related to wind power was $434 million (506.4 billion KRW), and 1,853 jobs were created as a result.
◊South Korean Government still faced with many obstacles
Although it is encouraging to see that South Korean Government’s Renewable Energy 3020 plan is taking place according to its initial goal, there are still many obstacles before renewable energy is used as a stable source of energy.
Resolving issues related to increased incidents where system connection is not taking place at the right time due to increased small solar power generating facilities is one of obstacles that South Korean Government needs to resolve.
According to Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO), numbers of requests for system connections related to solar power generation and wind power generation between 2014 and August of 2019 were 96,740 and 205 respectively. However, only 56.6% (54,787) of solar power generating facilities were actually led to system connection. 28.8% (59) of wind power generating facilities were led to system connection.
Also, wind power generation needs to resolve high entry barriers such as accommodation and authorization as distribution compared to the target basic plan for electricity supply and demand is low.
Although ESS (Energy Storage System) has emerged as an alternative for a stable source of generation that can overcome intermittency of new renewable energy, fact that there had been fires involving ESS recently is an issue.
South Korean Government is also aware of such issues and is focused on creating policies that can resolve these issues.
“Renewable Energy 3020 implementation plan is a necessary energy policy to protect future generations and the environment in South Korea.” said a representative for Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy. “Although there are still many issues, we are going to do our best to resolve issues through political measures.”
Staff Reporter Lee, Kyungmin |