New industry minister vows to overhaul energy policy, end nuclear phaseout

오석민 / 2022-05-13 11:21:37
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▲ This file photo taken April 11, 2022, shows Industry Minister Lee Chang-yang. (Pool photo) (Yonhap)

industry minister-energy policy

New industry minister vows to overhaul energy policy, end nuclear phaseout

SEOUL, May 13 (Yonhap) -- New South Korean Industry Minister Lee Chang-yang vowed Friday to overhaul the country's energy policy by utilizing nuclear power as part of efforts to ensure energy security and achieve zero-emission goals.

The move represents a reversal of the previous administration's nuclear phaseout plan, as Russia's invasion of Ukraine has drawn fresh international attention to energy security and nuclear power generation.

Russia's state-owned gas producer Gazprom has cut off gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria, as the countries refused to pay for shipments in rubles.

"We will re-design the country's energy policy with a scientific point of view to strengthen the country's energy security and raise the possibility of achieving net-zero goals," Lee said at his inauguration ceremony in Sejong, an administrative hub 130 km southeast of Seoul.

"We will ensure stable energy supplies through the balance of nuclear power generation and renewable energy resources, and prepare for the 2030 emissions reduction goals."

South Korea is also working on details to overhaul the country's carbon neutrality scheme, which called for reducing the country's greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent from the 2018 levels by 2030 and reach carbon neutrality by 2050.

Currently, South Korea operates 19 out of a total of 24 nuclear reactors, accounting for about 28 percent of the country's total power generation. The previous government had sought to decrease the number of plants in operation to 17 by 2034.

Lee also vowed efforts to nurture energy fields, such as carbon neutrality and hydrogen, in line with the rapidly changing environment in the sector, as new growth drivers.

The new minister also said the government is seeking to boost active backing for corporate research and development, and facility investment, and to ease regulations to spur industrial growth.

"I will strive to strengthen our policy on international trade and commerce to help our companies better compete in the global market," Lee said.

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