[Letters] Solar and wind power can replace nuclear reactors

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[Letters] Solar and wind power can replace nuclear reactors

Sondo, Incheon, has been named as the home for a new United Nations climate fund. The Green Climate Fund (GCF) is envisioned as the world’s largest lender to help developing nations raise finance for programs to lessen global risks from climate change and work toward eco-friendly growth. Korea, as the fund’s host country, should stand at the forefront in endeavors in environment conservation and climate change. The incoming president should specify low-carbon energy plans when rewriting the blueprint for national energy policy next year to live up to its name as home to the GCF.

President Lee Myung-bak and his administration in a 2008 national energy blueprint pledged to increase the share of renewable energy, but it remains more or less the same in the 2 percent range. We need resolute actions in order to move toward low-carbon policy. We need to increase natural gas development and join advanced countries in developing sustainable and clean renewable energy sources.

One of the more viable options is solar power, which in recent years has become cheaper to construct and is expected to cost about what it would to build a coal-fuel power grid in near future. If we can install solar panels on rooftops of half of the buildings across the country, we can secure 196 gigawatts of electricity - tantamount to output from the country’s 32 1-gigawatt nuclear reactors. The solar roof program could replace all 32 nuclear reactors, including four new generation plants planned for the future.

If we build wind turbines in the ocean and on land capable of generating 15 gigawatts worth of electricity - which won’t cost more than building a coal-fueled power generator - we can secure electricity tantamount to output from four 1-gigawatt nuclear generators. In short, solar and wind power can replace nuclear reactors and generate safe and clean power for the country.

The direction of future energy policy should be sustainable and based upon safe energy resources. The new president should come up with energy policy befitting the country’s newfound role in global climate control.

by Yang O-bong Professor of chemical engineering and head of the solar energy research center at Chonbuk National University.

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