Power plan draws fire
The Korean government has been advised to scale back plans to increase the country’s future reliance on nuclear power, a proposal that has drawn quick criticism from the business community.
A government-private panel suggested Sunday that the government reduce its projected reliance on nuclear energy to 22 percent to 29 percent, roughly the current level, by 2035 from a 2030 target of 41 percent.
Reaching that goal would require additional coal plans, development of renewable sources and holding the line on demand.
The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy will make a decision on the recommendations in December.
But critics said the increase in supply will be limited by growing concerns over coal’s adverse effect on climate change and the local environment and the cost and amount of time necessary to develop clean energy. They say the government would have little choice but to control demand by making electricity more expensive.
“It is a policy to curb demand by raising prices,” said Lee sang-ho, head of the industrial policy team of the Federation of the Korean Industries, the country’s largest business lobby.
“Korea depends on manufacturing for 35 percent of its GDP, and increasing electricity prices would significantly raise the cost of doing business.It would have a huge impact on the national economy.”
The FKI said electricity charges for household use have increased 44.4 percent on average since 2000, while industrial power costs soared 78.2 percent during the same period.
Korea’s industrial power rates are currently 75 percent of household electricity charges. But the FKI claimed it is higher than in other OECD countries - 70 percent in Japan, 66 percent in France, 60 percent in England, 56 percent in the United States and 44 percent in Germany.
Meanwhile, the working group’s proposal also drew criticism from civic groups and an opposition lawmaker. They say it would not reduce the number of nuclear reactors, but rather continue construction.
“The proposal’s goal is only an illusion. We will confirm whether there was any pressure from the government to maintain the nuclear power generation at the current level during the private-public working group discussion process at the national inspection held at the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy,” said Chang Ha-na, lawmaker of the opposition Democratic Party.
BY KIM KI-CHAN, KIM JUNG-YOON [firstname.lastname@example.org]