Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Korea to end dependence on nuclear power?

Both the domestic and international media have taken note of President Moon Jae-In's pledge to wean Korea off its heavy dependence on nuclear power, and rightly so.  For example, the Korea Joongang Daily published an article entitled "Moon vows to wean Korea off nuclear power" accompanied by a photo of President Moon, flanked by children, preparing to press a button to permanently shut down the Kori-1 reactor, one of the nation's aging nuclear power plants.  (click on graphic to see a full size version)
As of 2017, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)this nation relied on nuclear power plants to supply fully one third of its electrical power. (click on the graphic to see a full size version)  Thanks to nuclear power, this nation enjoys relatively inexpensive and dependable electric power, whether one lives in its large cities or in rural areas.  This semester, I had the privilege to teach a class to a group of five executives from the Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Co. and learned more from them about the current state of this nation's electric power grid.  Furthermore, having lived in South Korea continuously since 1996, I've enjoyed the dependable electric power supply that has helped fuel this nation's ICT-driven economic development.  It will indeed be a major challenge to "wean Korea off nuclear power."
In short, President Moon's declaration of his intent to shift Korea from dependence on nuclear power generation to renewable sources is a major policy change.  It is a bold move,  on the order of the Lee Myung Bak administration's dramatic shift from brown growth to a green growth strategy.  Along with many here in Korea and around the world, I can only wish President Moon and his administration well on achievement of this laudable goal.  It is an investment in future generations and the future of the planet.