In DepthEnergy Policy

South Korea's nuclear U-turn draws praise and darts

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Science  07 Jul 2017:
Vol. 357, Issue 6346, pp. 15
DOI: 10.1126/science.357.6346.15

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Summary

Newly inaugurated South Korean President Moon Jae-in is acting on a campaign pledge to cut the country's reliance on coal-fired power plants and reverse a long-standing policy favoring nuclear power. His administration is eying the closure of 10 older coal-fired plants and has announced that nuclear plants will be decommissioned when they reach the end of their initial operating licenses. He wants to increase the use of renewable energy from just 4.7% of the nation's generated electricity now to 20% by 2030. He will also increase the use of natural gas as being a cleaner alternative to coal. Environmentalists welcomed the move, particularly as it will help South Korea meet its Paris agreement pledge to reduce carbon dioxide emissions 37% by 2030. But nuclear power boosters are appalled; 230 nuclear engineering faculty members issued a statement calling for reaching a social consensus before pursuing a nuclear-free energy policy.

  • * With reporting by Ahn Mi-Young in Seoul.