- Fitch Solutions commentary on South Korea sees solar PV as contributing 12 GW additional capacity to the national energy mix between 2023 and 2032
- Onshore wind will also gain traction, but it faces headwinds from limited land availability and public opposition to large scale deployments
- The country has as much as 28 GW offshore wind capacity in the pipeline as of January 2023, as per Fitch analysis
- Non-hydro renewables share is expected to be toned-down which Fitch believes is a ‘tapering down of highly ambitious plans’
- Coal power is likely to decline, while gas-fired and nuclear power capacity will see growth under current administration
Come 2032, South Korea is likely to report about 46 GW cumulatively installed non-hydro renewable energy capacity, growing from an estimated 25 GW at the end of 2022, led by solar PV installations that Fitch Solutions Country Risk & Industry Research expects to add about 12 GW between 2023 and 2032.
Most of this solar PV capacity will come from rooftop and large scale PV projects tendered by the Korea Energy Agency (see 2 GW Solar Tender Launched In South Korea). It will be followed by onshore wind that doesn’t beat solar PV due to the ‘headwinds’ from limited land availability and public opposition to land use change for such deployments.
Offshore wind, however, holds great scope since the country enjoys extensive coastal areas. Fitch analysts counts as much as 28 GW worth of offshore wind projects in the pipeline as of January 2023.
The Fitch commentary is confident of non-hydro power renewables to experience strongest growth in the national electricity supply despite the current government making plans to lower the share of renewables from targeted 70% by 2050, and pull down 2030 target from 30.2% to 21.5%.
They explain, “We believe that this does not reflect an abatement of support for renewables, but a tapering down of highly ambitious plans, especially since ramping up nuclear power is back in focus. We believe that South Korea’s non-hydropower renewables sector will experience the largest growth rates of all power types over the coming 10 years.”
According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the Republic of Korea or South Korea’s total renewable energy capacity at the end of 2021 was 24.36 GW, comprising 18.16 GW solar PV capacity.
Fitch analysts see nuclear power, under South Korean President Yoon Suk-Yeol, gaining clout as the government has proposed to increase its share in the national mix to 32.8% by 2030, up from 23.9% as targeted currently. They peg nuclear power generation to expand from an estimated 155TWh in 2022-end to 171 TWh in 2032, ‘supported by existing nuclear power plants in construction’.
It will be complete shift from the previous administration’s plans to phase out nuclear power.
Nonetheless, the share of coal is on the downhill as gas-fired capacity takes centerstage as the country seeks more of less carbon-intensive energy sources. A government draft proposes South Korea to aim for gas-fired power to account for 20.9% of the country’s energy mix by 2030, instead of 19.5% as targeted now.
“With continued support for the gas-fired power sector and the paring back of coal-fired power generation, we forecast gas to be the dominant fossil fuel type in South Korea by the end of 2025, at 30.5% share of the power mix. This is slightly above coal’s share of about 30.3% in our forecasts,” analysts add.
In September 2021, South Korea committed to becoming a carbon neutral nation by 2050 with a Carbon Neutrality and Green Growth Act (see South Korea Clears Carbon Neutrality Act).