South Korea’s government unveiled a plan Tuesday to invest about 42 trillion won ($36.6 billion) in developing renewable energy industries, such as solar and wind power and eco-friendly power plants, by 2020.
Under the plan, new renewable power stations will be built to produce 13 million kilowatts of electricity annually — equivalent to that of 26 coal plants in the country — according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, the Yonhap News Agency reported. Minister Joo Hyung-hwan said at a meeting of the future energy strategy committee that some 33 trillion won will be spent on the development of renewable energy resources in the next five years, with 4.5 trillion won to be invested in energy storage systems and another 2 trillion won in eco-friendly power plants, reports said.
The government raised the required ratio of renewable energy generation to 5.0 percent by 2018 and 7.0 percent by 2020, expecting the new energy sectors to create about 30,000 jobs by 2020.
The ministry said individuals would also be permitted to sell the electricity produced from their own solar panels, while large commercial buildings could be equipped with 1,000 kW solar power generators to save on their utility bills. Currently, the Korea Electric Power Corp. is the only eligible player to buy and distribute electricity in the country.
“The government will lift unnecessary regulations and increase government support to foster the renewable energy sector,” Chae Hee-bong, deputy trade minister for energy and resource policies, said in a press briefing. “It will also help those businesses explore overseas markets.”
As of 2015, liquefied natural gas plants accounted for 33 percent of South Korea’s total power production, followed by coal plants with 28 percent and nuclear power with 22 percent. The government announced last month the country was considering closing aged coal-fired power plants in a bid to curb fine dust emissions, in light of worsening air pollution.