Korea’s government wants greener energy. Who will pay for it?

15-Jun-2019 Intellasia | Economist | 6:00 AM Print This Post

There are few subsidies for renewables or disincentives to build coal-fired plants

Standing in the middle of a huge coastal mud flat, Moon Jae-in, South Korea’s president, announced in October the beginning of “a new 1,000-year energy history” for his country. Behind him stretched a field of solar panels; a large windmill loomed in the background. The area, called Saemangeum, was dammed with the world’s largest seawall under a previous administration. Moon wants it to become home to wind farms and solar plants capable of generating 4gw of power, to give South Korea a “brighter future”.

The site has unfortunate associations. The seawall, conceived in the early 1990s to reclaim land for agriculture, is the country’s most famous white elephant. It cost billions to build, but by the time it was completed, in 2010, there was little demand for new farmland. Environmentalists, meanwhile, lamented the destruction of an important way-station for migratory birds. Local fishermen complained their catches had shrunk. The vast expanse of stagnant, brackish water trapped behind the dyke hardly speaks of a greener future.



Category: Korea

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