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S Korean president vows to achieve carbon-neutrality by 2050

Highlights

Govt sets aside $65.2 bil over next 5 years to help meet goal

To raise renewable capacity to 42.7 GW in 2025 from 12.7 GW in 2019

Hydrogen supply to hit 5.26 mil mt/year in 2040 from 130,000 mt/year now

Seoul — South Korea will achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 through replacing coal-fired power generation with renewables and internal combustion engine vehicles with hydrogen-powered and battery-based electric vehicles, President Moon Jae-in said Oct. 28.

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In his annual budget speech delivered to the National Assembly, Moon said his government would make greater efforts to reduce the country's heavy dependence on fossil fuels to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

South Korea "will actively respond to the climate change and join forces with the international community so as to make the country carbon neutral by 2050," Moon said in the speech.

As part of its efforts to achieve "carbon-neutrality" by 2050, South Korea will spend Won 73.4 trillion ($65.2 billion) over the next five years, focusing on expanding the country's power generation capacity of solar panels and wind turbines to 26.3 GW in 2020 and 42.7 GW in 2025, up from 12.7 GW last year.

'Hydrogen society'

The zero-carbon campaign is in line with Moon's much-touted "hydrogen society" initiative unveiled last year with the aim of using hydrogen as a major energy source for transportation and power generation.

To facilitate sales of hydrogen-powered vehicles, Moon vowed to increase the number of hydrogen charging stations to 450 by 2025 from 37 currently across the country.

The government will also ease regulations on hydrogen fuel stations, while providing more hydrogen fuel cell buses and taxis as well as LNG-fueled trucks.

The Moon government has said it would pave the way for the country to increase hydrogen supply to 470,000 mt a year in 2022, 1.94 million mt/year in 2030 and 5.26 million mt/year in 2040, from 130,000 mt/year currently.

Under Moon's drive, South Korea will produce 81,000 hydrogen-powered cars by 2022, which will increase to 6.2 million units by 2040, which is significant, given South Korea has a total of 22 million vehicles on the roads, using mainly gasoline, diesel and LPG as fuels.

The blueprint also calls for the country to supply 15 GW of hydrogen fuel cell capacity for electricity production in 2040, of which 8 GW will be for domestic use. The 8 GW is about 7% of South Korea's combined power generation capacity of 116 GW.

Boost for renewables

Under his "3020 Vision," Moon, who took office in May 2017 for a single five-year term, has also vowed to pave the way for the country to boost the share of renewables in its power generation mix to 20% in 2030 from 5.2% in 2019, while reducing coal's share to 36.1% in 2030 from 40.4% in 2019, and nuclear's share will fall to 23.9% in 2030 from 25.9% in 2019.

The portion of LNG is forecast to be 18.8% in 2030, from 25.6% in 2019, while the capacity of LNG-fired power plants will increase to 60.6 GW in 2034 from 41.3GW in 2020 to prepare to meet any possible rises in power demand.

Moon is also pushing for a nuclear phaseout under which his government will pave the way to make the country "free of nuclear" power by 2079.

Nuclear power accounts for about 30% of South Korea's electricity mix, LNG-fired power plants are responsible for around 25%, and coal-fired power plants satisfy around 40% of demand. The remainder come from renewables.