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Korea to wind down nuclear power over next 60 years: energy minister

The government is looking to gradually push its nuclear-free energy policy over the next six decades in an effort to establish a future of greener and safer energy, said Paik Un-gyu, minister of trade, industry and energy, on Friday.

“Now is a good time to start transitioning our energy sources to be safer and cleaner,” said Paik during his keynote speech at the 57th Energy Forum at Lotte Hotel in Seoul on Friday.

“We need to steer away from our past energy production models that focused on promoting nuclear power plants,” he continued.

The announcement comes following President Moon Jae-in’s pledges to pursue and meet demand for clean, renewable energy. However, the policy has raised questions regarding potential spikes in the price of electricity as well as power shortages.

Paik Un-gyu, minister of trade, industry and energy (Yonhap)
Paik Un-gyu, minister of trade, industry and energy (Yonhap)
The new energy push also comes amid backlash from the industry, as one of Korea’s nuclear power plants was permanently shut down, while the construction of two other plants has been suspended.

However, Paik announced that as opposed to abruptly shutting down nuclear power plant facilities across the country, the government would instead slowly phase out these plants over the next 60 years, adding there is no need to rush the transition. 

The ministry said that during the transitional period of decommissioning nuclear power plants, it would prioritize the establishment of renewable energy methods such as solar and wind power.

Paik also added that by eventually abolishing the country’s six new nuclear power plants, Korea would be able to dramatically reduce its fine dust emissions. The government aims for 20 percent of the country’s total power generation to come from renewable sources by 2030. It targets to increase the generation of solar and wind power from 38 percent of renewable power generation in 2016 to 80 percent by 2030.

“We will weigh the opinions of various experts and stakeholders, carefully listen to the voices of the people and actively expand communication so that the new government’s energy policy can be successfully implemented,” Paik said.

The eco-friendly energy push by the Moon Administration is expected to lead to the creation of some 77,000 jobs by 2022.

By Julie Jackson (
Korea Herald Youtube