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Nuclear power in South Korea’s green growth strategy : Green growth quarterly update III-2013

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  • Nuclear power in South Korea’s green growth strategy
  • O’Donnell, Jill Kosch
  • Council on Foreign Relations


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Title Nuclear power in South Korea’s green growth strategy
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Sub Title

Green growth quarterly update III-2013

Material Type Reports
Author(English)

O’Donnell, Jill Kosch

Publisher

[New York]:Council on Foreign Relations

Date 2013-06
Pages 14
Subject Country South Korea(Asia and Pacific)
Language English
File Type Link
Subject Industry and Technology < Energy
Holding Council on Foreign Relations

Abstract

Nuclear power has been an important, if understated, aspect of South Korea’s National Strategy for Green Growth, a set of policies reflecting the idea that economic growth and environmental protection can be compatible activities rather than conflicting. Former president Lee Myung-bak did not mention nuclear power when he announced his administration’s national vision for green growth in a 2008 speech, although nuclear power later made an appearance as one of ten major green growth policy objectives. Arguing that nuclear energy use improves energy independence while mitigating carbon emissions, Lee championed a green growth framework that provided a new justification for South Korea to expand nuclear power at home and promote it abroad. Plans are under way to increase nuclear power’s share of the country’s electricity generation from 33 percent to 59 percent by 2030. In addition to the twenty-three reactors currently operating, five new reactors are under construction and eight more are planned.
However, recent reports of safety and quality-control problems at nuclear power plants in South Korea have undermined public trust in the safety and reliability of the country’s cheapest source of electricity.5 Although South Korea has experienced no major nuclear accidents since its first reactor began commercial operations in 1978, the nuclear power rethink in many countries resulting from the March 2011 nuclear accident in Fukushima, Japan, has created an atmosphere that only heightens these concerns.6 At the same time, the government must also secure public acceptance of new storage sites for radioactive waste from spent nuclear fuel—an issue that highlights how doubts about nuclear power’s green credentials can clash with the desire to meet rising electricity demand with low-carbon sources. Complicating this situation is the new South Korean president Park Geun-hye, who must decide how to put her stamp on green growth.