South China Morning Post launches ‘ARTIFACT' NFT standard, letting anyone own and trade pieces of history

LNG power generation poses dilemma for Korea's energy policy

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By Kim Bo-eun

The Moon Jae-in administration has been moving toward phasing out coal-fired power generation and nuclear power plants.

As the transition takes place to renewable energy, the government has made liquefied natural gas (LNG) an important source of power generation.

The government is backing LNG because it is more environmentally friendly, with lower levels of carbon emission compared to other energy sources. LNG is known to emit around half of the greenhouse gases that coal does when burnt to generate electricity.

LNG became the largest source of power generation for the country in April this year. The government has unveiled plans to expand the scale of LNG power generation to 59,096 megawatts by 2034. This is up from 39,655 megawatts in 2019. If the planned transition takes place, LNG will become the second-largest source of power generation in that year, accounting for 30.6 percent, after renewable energy which will take up 40.3 percent.

The plan is to bring down the proportion of coal-fired plants in total power generation to 15 percent in 2034 from 29.5 percent in 2019 and reduce the share taken up by nuclear plants to 10.1 percent from 18.5 percent.

The government plans to construct 19 more LNG power plants by 2030 to enable the transition.

But the high cost of LNG fuel is posing a dilemma ― it is more than 10 times higher than that of operating nuclear plants.

Another risk is that Korea relies on LNG imports from the U.S. and Middle Eastern countries such as Quatar and Oman. The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy is rushing to secure long-term supply contracts to meet growing demand due to the expanded use of LNG. Demand is projected to grow to 4,797 tons by 2034, up from 4,169 tons this year, according to the ministry’s plan. This presents a challenge, as Korea will have to secure additional contracts with other countries.

The dependency on imports poses risks, because a failure to secure long-term contracts will force the government to rely on short-term contracts, which would likely bring up costs further, and potentially lead to a rise in electricity bills.

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