S. Korea should find right energy mix: OECD head

By Kim Da-sol
  • Published : Oct 19, 2017 - 17:26
  • Updated : Oct 19, 2017 - 17:26
South Korea’s energy industry is at a crossroads, with the decision on the fate of two nuclear reactors already under construction due Friday. But more than arguing over how fast the country’s energy policy should shift, the country must focus more on finding the right energy mix, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s secretary-general. 

OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria. Yonhap

South Korea is about to see a “very drastic and accelerated changing of energy cost structures,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria during a press conference in Seoul on Wednesday. 

Choosing the right energy mix that would work for consumers, industrial companies as well as the environment is not a simple task. 

“There is no single technology or source (for a country to rely on when deciding the right energy mix). It’s more about thinking which direction to go, moving away from pollution,” he said. 

“It’s a question of technology and cost. It’s a question of speed and availability of renewables,” he added. 

Gurria spoke positively of the South Korean government’s commitment to moving away from nuclear energy, which now accounts for one-third of the country’s power production, and increasing the proportion of clean energy. 

South Korea, with its advanced and sophisticated technology and strong political commitment, would be able to handle much of the current power demand with alternatives, he predicted. 

The world is seeing a fast drop in the minimum unit cost for renewables such as solar and wind energy, in contrary to that of nuclear power, the official added. 

On Friday, South Korea will find out whether the Shin Kori No. 5 and 6 nuclear reactors, the construction of which has been suspended since June by the Moon Jae-in administration at 28 percent completion, will be aborted. 

Gurria’s remarks were made in a joint press conference with Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon on the sidelines of a meeting of the OECD Champion Mayors for Inclusive Growth meeting that opened Thursday.

The secretary-general also mentioned another great resource that Korea has available but has not been able to make active use of: women and the elderly. 

“(Korea) still has a very big gap between men and women when it comes to economic participation as well as salary in the labor market,” said Gurria. 

Acknowledging Korea’s aging population, he said too many elderly are required to stop working as early as in their 50s, which he viewed as one of the most serious elderly issues among OECD countries. 

“With no active migration policy in Korea, suggestions are that you have to use your capacity to use the current resources.”

By Kim Da-sol (