Tuesday, March 26th, 2019

Evaluating options for sustainable energy mixes in South Korea using scenario analysis

Available online 22 March 2013
Publication year: 2013

To mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, coal-fired electricity infrastructure needs to be replaced by low-carbon electricity generation options. Here we examine a range of possible alternative scenarios for sustainable electricity generation in South Korea, considering both physical and economic limits of current technologies. The results show that South Korea cannot achieve a 100% renewable energy mix and requires at least 55 GW of backup capacity. Given that constraint, we modelled seven scenarios: ( i ) the present condition, ( ii ) the First National Electricity Plan configuration, ( iii ) renewable energy (including 5 GW photovoltaic) with fuel cells or ( iv ) natural gas backup, ( v ) maximum renewable energy (including 75 GW photovoltaic) with natural gas, ( vi ) maximum nuclear power, and ( vii ) nuclear power with natural gas. We then quantify levelised cost of electricity, energy security, greenhouse gas emissions, fresh water consumption, heated water discharge, land transformation, air pollutant emissions, radioactive waste disposal, solid waste disposal and safety issues for each modelled mix. Our analysis shows that the maximum nuclear power scenario yields the fewest overall negative impacts, and the maximum renewable energy scenario with fuel cells would have the highest negative impacts.


► Due to physical limits of renewable sources, renewable energy cannot provide total electricity consumption in South Korea. ► A massive expansion of solar power will act to save only a small amount of backup fuel at greatly increased costs. ► A huge supply of natural gas capacity is essential, due to the absence of feasible large-scale energy storage. ► A pathway to maximize renewable energy causes more environmental and economic disadvantages than the status quo . ► Maximizing nuclear power is the most sustainable option for South Korea.

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