Publication - Not Yet Renewed: Challenges in Renewable Energy Transition in South Korea 2020

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Not Yet Renewed: Challenges in Renewable Energy Transition in South Korea 2020
Solutions for Our Climate (SFOC)
Jeehye Park, Jessica Yun, Joojin Kim
Published in
March 2020
While there is momentum toward clean energy transition in South Korea, solar and wind account for less than 2% of total electricity generation.

So what's stalling renewable growth in the East Asian nation? As explored in "Not Yet Renewed: Challenges in Renewable Energy Transition in South Korea 2020", which was published with support from the EU Partnership Instrument called the Strategic Partnership for the Implementation of Paris Agreement (SPIPA), there are various grid, land, and power market policy hurdles facing renewable energy expansion in South Korea. Here are some key points:

1- Lack of grid infrastructure and variability concerns: Over 6 GW of renewable power projects cannot be carried forward due to grid connection issues stemming from the lack of substations or distribution lines. There are also various concerns being raised about grid management challenges and issues created by the increase in variable renewable energy, and resident complaints.

2- Restrictive land policies and misinformation: About half of local governments' regulations specify a minimum distance requirement in which solar PV facilities must be between 100 m to 2,000 m away from roads or residential areas. It is not only difficult to find land that meets these conditions within Korea's small national territory but also confusing for electric utility businesses, which face minimum distance requirements and conditions that differ by each local government jurisdiction. This issue is also compounded by misinformation around renewables (e.g. heavy metals, electromagnetic waves from PV generation).

3- Insufficient subsidies and market inefficiencies: Half of Korea's RECs under its renewable portfolio standard (RPS) system are rewarded to non-renewable (e.g. IGCC, waste energy) energy, leaving insufficient subsidies for solar and wind. What's more, as renewable suppliers and consumers are the same entities under the current RPS system, there are market inefficiencies around renewable energy supply obligations.

4- Lack of flexibility: In the current power facility composition, the total facility capacity of non-flexible power sources such as coal and nuclear reaches 50.1%. This lack of flexibility within the nation's power facility composition hinders the development of renewables. Meanwhile, new

energy services are struggling to survive, with no incentives for efficiency gains. KEPCO's monopoly over the retail business, in which consumers can only passively accept power services from KEPCO, is cited as the main cause of this problem.