South Korean President Announces Nuclear, Coal Phase-Out. Looks to Offshore Wind.

South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in, elected last month, today announced plans for the country’s transition to renewables and phase-out of nuclear and coal plants in a speech during the official ceremony of the permanent shutdown of the country’s oldest nuclear power plant. Moon added he will focus on developing solar and offshore wind power.

Image: / Korean Culture and Information Service (Jeon Han)

Moon promised to scrap existing plans for new nuclear plants and said the life of old reactors will not be extended. He also vowed to shut down 10 old coal power plants and cancel new coal projects, and further referred to renewable energy as the new engine of growth.

This is a globally significant turnaround for South Korea, which counts as one of the top nuclear producers in the world, Greenpeace said in a press release, further adding that Moon’s announcement ensures that Korea delivers on its current climate target of 37% by 2030 as outlined in the Paris agreement. On Friday, at the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) meeting, Moon mentioned a 20% renewable energy target by 2030.

“Wind and solar energy will account for over a third of the world’s power generation by 2040 so President Moon’s promise to prioritise renewables as a source of national growth provides great hope. We can only expect this to strengthen the competitiveness of the Korean industry, both nationally and internationally,” said Daul Jang, Senior Climate & Energy Campaigner at Greenpeace East Asia (Seoul).

South Korea received first electricity generated by an offshore wind farm on 29 September 2016, when the first power was generated by three out of the ten 3MW turbines installed at the 30MW Tamra offshore wind farm off Geumdeung-ri on Jeju Island.

In January, a memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed for the development of an offshore wind project with a total capacity of up to 96.8MW at South Korea’s estuarine tidal flat Saemangeum.