South Korea’s Energy Future: Renewables Take the Lead

South Korea is most dependent on the Strait of Malacca for energy imports.

But South Korea looks to the future and imagines a future with renewable energies.

1. Energy imports through the Strait of Malacca

South Korea is highly dependent on energy imports from Middle Eastern countries. Trade takes place via the Strait of Malacca. The problem is that most other East Asian countries along the Western Pacific are also dependent on hydrocarbon imports through the Strait of Malacca. This leads to dependence and makes the countries vulnerable if these energy imports are reduced in the future.

South Korea could examine whether it makes sense to diversify its energy imports. One way South Korea could do this is to increase the share of energy imports from Russia. There are considerable hydrocarbon resources in Siberia and the Far East of the Russian Federation. This could give South Korea more influence on energy supply relations.  

2. Renewable energies

South Korea places a special emphasis on solar energy, although the country is too far north due to its geographical latitude to fully exploit the potential of solar radiation. Wind energy is certainly an option, even if it currently accounts for only a small share of total primary energy consumption. South Korea aims to expand offshore wind energy in the foreseeable future. 

It is worth remembering that South Korea is a major producer of renewable energy technologies in the world. It has the added advantage of being the industrial center for the production of wind turbines and PV panels. But on the other hand, this also depends on foreign markets, and most East Asian markets are very strong producers of renewable energy technologies. 

Another path worth exploring is the options available to South Korea in providing renewable energy infrastructure for projects along the new Silk Road.

3. Nuclear energy

Nuclear energy is widely regarded as a suitable alternative to hydrocarbon imports. There are considerable counter-reactions against the construction of nuclear power plants in South Korea. One reason for this is that in the medium term, renewable energies will become cost-competitive with nuclear power. 

4. Natural resources

A significant part of the natural resources is actually located in North Korea. South Korea has very few natural resources, let alone energy resources. This is an enormous obstacle for a country that is dependent on industrial production and exports. 

5. Conclusion

Taking all possibilities into consideration, South Korea could diversify its energy supply lines. At the same time, South Korea could promote both nuclear energy and the production of renewable energy in order to become more energy independent. 

Many thanks for the shared interest in the energy world!

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