S. Korea produces 20% less renewable energy than Samsung Electronics uses in a year, study finds

Posted on : 2022-04-13 17:03 KST Modified on : 2022-04-13 17:03 KST
Climate groups warn that if domestic solar and wind power generation is not improved, Korea’s export-reliant economy could take a hit
Silhouettes of wind turbines stand in the foreground of glowing orange sunset over the Baekdu-Daegan mountain system on Feb. 19. (Yonhap News)
Silhouettes of wind turbines stand in the foreground of glowing orange sunset over the Baekdu-Daegan mountain system on Feb. 19. (Yonhap News)

South Korea still has a long road ahead when it comes to renewable energy, a recent analysis has shown. In order to meet 100% renewable energy use in South Korea’s primary industries, Korea would need to produce 4.5 times the domestic renewable energy it is currently generating.

Korea’s total renewable energy production measures up to just 80% of the total electricity Samsung Electronics consumes in a single year. Based on such figures, climate organizations are pointing out that Korean companies’ competitiveness could falter when compared to global companies voluntarily participating in the RE100 — a global corporate renewable energy initiative through which businesses commit to using 100% renewable energy.

On Tuesday, Ember, an energy think tank based in the UK, released findings of an analysis of the status of renewable energy generation and electricity demand in South Korea by looking at 11 major domestic companies with high carbon emissions.

The companies analyzed included Samsung Electronics, SK Hynix, LG Display, Hyundai Steel, Dongkuk Steel, SeAH Besteel, Hyundai Motor, Samsung SDI, DB Metal, POSCO, and LG Electronics. These 11 companies consumed a total of 98 terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity as of 2020.

However, as of 2020, Korea was generating 21.5 terawatt-hours of energy via wind and solar power generation. This means that to achieve RE100, the country must produce at least 4.5 times the renewable energy it currently does.

Regarding Korean industries’ sluggishness when it comes to change, the Korea Development Institute’s Graduate School of Policy & Management and the Korea Energy Economics Institute warned last year that exports of automobiles, semiconductors, and displays will drop by 15%, 31%, and 40%, respectively. This is because Korean businesses, which tend to rely on exports, could fall behind in terms of global competitiveness if they don’t keep their RE100 pledges.

South Korea is marked in red. (courtesy of Ember)
South Korea is marked in red. (courtesy of Ember)

According to Ember’s “Global Electricity Review 2022,” which was released last month, as a share of overall electricity generation in the country, Korea’s solar and wind power generation was only 4.7% last year, coming in at less than half of the global average of 10% in proportion to total power generation.

“Scientists at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have found that expanding renewable energy such as solar and wind power is the most economical and fastest way to achieve the goal of reducing greenhouse gasses,” said Lee Uni, who works as an Asia electricity analyst at Ember. “Raising the renewable energy target and expanding facilities will help overcome energy problems and the climate crisis, and will also help Korea’s export economy.”

By Choi Woo-ri, staff reporter

Please direct questions or comments to [english@hani.co.kr]

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