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S.Korea’s 2030 carbon emissions target ‘extremely’ challenging: Wood Mackenzie

Prakash Sharma, Wood Mackenzie’s Asia Pacific head of markets and transitions (Wood Mackenzie)
Prakash Sharma, Wood Mackenzie’s Asia Pacific head of markets and transitions (Wood Mackenzie)


South Korea aims to reduce carbon emissions 24.4 percent by 2030 compared to 2017, but the target appears to be “extremely” ambitious, according to energy consulting firm Wood Mackenzie on Tuesday.

Prakash Sharma, Wood Mackenzie’s Asia Pacific head of markets and transitions, cited two reasons for the pessimism.

“First, only 3 percent has been reduced in the last seven years. To reduce the remaining 20 percent over the next 10 years is extremely challenging,” Sharma said during an online press conference.

As for the second reason, the expert pointed to the continued growth of South Korean energy demand and power consumption.

“This means reducing emissions in this decade will be challenging because the fuel mix needs time to change.”

While casting doubts over the 2030 target, the energy analyst said there is still hope for the country’s long-term goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, if sufficient investments are made into renewables, low-carbon hydrogen, carbon capture and storage, small modular nuclear and batteries.

“South Korea has a very small share of wind and solar in the power sector. In the overall energy mix, that share is much smaller, only around 1 percent in 2020,” Sharma said, adding that the figure should rise to 22 percent to meet the country’s 2050 target.

The analyst added that low-carbon hydrogen will play a key role for Korea’s green targets, but expressed concerns that the country might lack enough production capacity.

“We expect South Korea’s low-carbon hydrogen demand to reach 1.2 million tons by 2030. To reach its net-zero ambitions by 2050, the figure would grow tenfold to 12 million tons. However, domestic supply will struggle to meet demand, with imports expected at 9.5 million tons by 2050,” Sharman said.

The analyst pointed out that lack of price competitiveness of locally produced low-carbon hydrogen might force Korea to rely on imports from Australia, Saudi Arabia, among others.

To achieve price competitiveness, the analyst stressed that when Korea produces low-carbon hydrogen such as green hydrogen with electricity generated from renewables, the country should cut the price of the clean electricity by 50 percent or more.

By Kim Byung-wook (kbw@heraldcorp.com)
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