Common sense missingThe government announced a new mid- to long-term energy plan boosting the share of renewable energy to 30 percent to 35 percent by 2040 from the current 7.6 percent.
It left out a lot of specifics on adjustments to the renewable portfolio standards or residential electricity billing rates. A more specific action roadmap is due to come out by the year’s end. Its outline, nevertheless, underscored how out-of-touch the government is on the very important subject of energy planning.
Energy planning is based on an estimation of demand. Electricity demand will surge to power autonomous vehicles and cloud-based networking in the age of the fourth industrial revolution.
Yet government estimates say that energy demand will fall 18.6 percent in 2040 from current levels. It promises to accelerate proliferation of solar power, but lacks any measures on modules and panel wastes.
The eco-friendly energy plan has actually been responsible for serious damage to the environment. Forestry on the scale of 26.6 square kilometers (10 square miles) has been wiped out to make way for solar power generators over the past 15 years.
A study showed that an extra space of 444 square kilometers, tantamount to covering 73 percent of Seoul, would be needed to meet President Moon Jae-in’s policy to achieve a 20 percent renewable share by 2030.
A bolder drive to push the share up to 35 percent would involve greater destruction of greenery.
The administration’s renewable push coupled with its policy to phase out nuclear power causes bigger concerns.
The Blue House coolly responded to a petition on its homepage calling for the government to reconsider plans to stop the constructions of Shin Hanul 3 and 4 reactors two months after the supporters reached 330,000, asking them to refer the case to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.
The Moon administration promised to personally tend to petitions when electronic signatures pass a threshold of 200,000.
Senior presidential secretaries have answered petitions that attract a lot of public attention live on social media. This suggests that the Blue House is cherry-picking issues and themes that it favors for attention.
The nuclear phase-out policy goes against the international trend and advice from the around the world in industry and academia. The government must pay heed to voices of common sense.
JoongAng Sunday, April 20, Page 30