Posted August. 14, 2008 06:32,
The government yesterday released its energy plan that suggests raising the share of nuclear power in energy production to 59 percent and that of Koreas self-production of gas and oil to 40 percent. The plan also involves fostering the new and renewable energy industry, including clean energy sources such as solar and wind power, as a new growth engine, thus reducing dependence on oil from 43 percent in 2006 to 33 percent.
The energy plan suggests the proper way for Korea to go. Nevertheless, the nation will certainly face a string of obstacles. Given the exhaustion of fossil fuels, energy security and the ever-strengthening regulations on CO2 emissions, nuclear power is the most practical alternative. To increase the share of nuclear power generation, however, 11 more nuclear power plants producing 1.4 million kilowatts of energy must be built. If 20 nuclear reactors in operation and eight such plants under construction are added, the number of nuclear plants will reach 40 in Korea. Koreans are thus more likely to worry over the possibility of nuclear accidents and the safety of nuclear waste disposal. Civic organizations will wage demonstrations against the plan. Against this background, the government should release the production costs of each energy source and prospects for energy supply, while doing its best to win public support.
The governments pitch for higher self-sufficiency in oil and gas should not ring hollow. Certainly, surging international oil prices have slowed. Korean society, however, has felt keenly the significance of energy security while suffering from energy inflation. Energy imports reached a whopping 90.7 billion U.S. dollars last year, equal to 25 percent of all imports. The rate of Koreas self-sufficiency in oil and gas was just 3.2 percent in 2006. Korea brought on this bitter result since it sat idle while watching Chinas sophisticated "resource diplomacy" in Africa and Japans effort to strengthen its influence by providing a large chunk of aid.
Korea needs to invest more into exploring new energy fields, acquiring energy fields under operation, and securing techniques and experts by acquiring global resource development firms. A stable energy supply is the foundation for the survival and prosperity of a community. Given that, Korea must take energy security more seriously. Without a stable supply of energy, no nation can join the ranks of advanced countries.