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Renewable energy drive makes little progress

The nation’s drive to increase electricity generation from renewable energy sources is facing rough sailing as a number of power and utility companies failed to meet their green energy production targets in 2012. The targets were set by the government under a regulation called the renewable portfolio standard, or RPS.

RPS, which was introduced in January last year, is an annual renewable energy development quota for state-run and private power and utilities companies with more than 500 megawatts of power generation capacity.

In 2012, 13 companies, including six units of the Korea Electric Power Corp. and POSCO Power and GS Power, were subject to the RPS, which was set below 2 percent of energy production.

“Most state-run power generation companies failed to meet their 2012 RPS due to a variety of reasons,” said an official from Korea Midland Power, one of KEPCO’s subsidiaries.

The Korea Energy Management Corp. said that the 13 companies are expected to have achieved only 50 to 60 percent of their annual quota.

Difficulties in acquiring land for facility investment and opposition from local citizens or environmental activities were cited as the main reasons for holding back the drive for renewable energy, KOMIPO said.

For instance, KOMIPO decided to delay its tidal power project on Ganghwado Island due to rising opposition from environmental activists. The project was to build a tidal power plant on the island with a power generation capacity of 813 megawatts. The plan was delayed due to strong opposition from environmental activists who claimed the plant would deal a blow to the tidal flats of the island and the breeding grounds of an endangered migratory water bird.

Industry watchers said RPS could be a critical tool to increase renewable energy sources in Korea, but it would take a while for companies subject to the standard to see results after trial and error.

Korea has set its goal for the proportion of electricity generated by renewable sources to 11 percent by 2030. In 2012, the figure was estimated at around 3 percent.

By Seo Jee-yeon  (