Daesung News
Read the latest news featuring Daesung Group
Daesung News detail table
Title [The Korea Times] Is South Korea`s `net zero` by 2050 possible? 2020.11.24

FROM: The Korea Times

[The Korea Times - November 24,2020]


Is South Korea's 'net zero' by 2050 possible?



Daesung Group CEO and Chairman Younghoon David Kim, left and former U.N. Secretary-General and the National Council on Climate and Air Quality President Ban Ki-moon talk during an interview with The Korea Times.

Korea Times Photo by Shim Hyun-Chul




How Korea can transform from climate villain to climate hero

Two renewable energy experts call for alternatives for coal and nuclear power, public conscience's awakening

The ever-manifesting global alliance on lowering carbon emissions to curb the feared consequences of global warming has recently forced the South Korean government to announce on Oct. 28 the country would go "net zero" by 2050 ― bringing the net amount of carbon emissions to zero. The announcement came after the Moon Jae-in administration in July released the Green New Deal, a set of future-oriented policies invested with 73 trillion won ($66.2 billion) to minimize carbon emissions, as part of the game-changing Korean New Deal plan to restructure the country's economy.

But the Green New Deal stoked doubts and drew criticism over its superficiality and lack of detailed plans, as well as its focus on job creation and the economy rather than the dire environmental concerns already affecting lives. Since then, people have demanded an incisive and critical evaluation of the country's ongoing carbon reduction efforts that embrace both future industries and future generations.

One such evaluation has been shaped in The Korea Times' recent interview with former U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Younghoon David Kim, CEO and chairman of one of South Korea's oldest energy conglomerates Daesung Group. Their verdict: to realize net zero, a new energy source to replace coal and nuclear power that the country heavily relies on and to stabilize the shortcomings of renewable energy sources would be required.

"The Moon administration's announcement of net zero is a welcome sign after the Green New Deal caught flak from many experts, including myself, for putting climate ambitions in the backseat to concentrate on the COVID-19-hit economy," said Ban, now heading the National Council on Climate and Air Quality (NCCA) established in 2019 directly under President Moon. "It also seems inevitable after China and Japan announced earlier this year going net zero by 2060 and 2050, respectively, and U.S. President-Elect Joe Biden promised to push for net zero by 2050 with a $2 trillion budget and new carbon adjustment fees and return to the Paris Agreement."





"While China is investing in nuclear power, the South Korean government wants to reconsider its position on it," said Kim. "But unless we come up with a new alternative energy with improved efficiency, we will hit the wall sooner or later with our current energy mix."

Underlying his concern is the biggest problem of renewable energy in the country ― an intermittent, unstable power supply, as Korea lacks "the high amount of sunlight seen in places like the Sahara Desert or the United Arab Emirates" for photovoltaic systems, according to Kim. This is especially problematic for South Korea which is overrun by energy-intensive industrial infrastructure, like vast networks of information communication technology.

"Whether running a single household or keeping a nation safe, energy security is an absolute imperative to prevent disastrous consequences like blackouts," said Kim, who was the chair of the World Energy Council from 2016 to 2019.

"This naturally leads our discussion of energy storage systems (ESS). Now, the capacity of our current ESS technology may cover cars but it cannot yet sustain our state power grid's tremendous volume. Without an ESS to stabilize the energy security of renewable power, the technology will remain a thorny issue which will surface as a problem to resolve in future."



Pax Koreana?

Kim, whose company has been in the energy sector since 1947, admired the "energy efficiency" that drove the first and second Industrial Revolutions and dubbed it the key to a breakthrough in South Korea's current energy mix problems. Moreover, he predicted South Korea is where innovation in energy efficiency will take place, with its impact equivalent to that of the past industrial revolutions.

"What James Watt did during the First Industrial Revolution was not inventing a steam engine ― that already existed in his time period ― but drastically improving its efficiency. What Nikola Tesla did was raise the efficiency of existing AC generators. What they did was improve efficiency of the existing energy systems to the point of revolutionizing them," he said.

"Just like Pax Britannica or Pax Americana, which basically meant the world benefiting from energy revolutions, South Korea's advanced Fourth Industrial Revolution movements based on information technologies and good energy infrastructure could kick off something like Pax Koreana. It will make South Korea a global hero, a dramatic shift from its present onus of being tagged a climate change villain," he said, referencing Korea's state-financing of new coal power plant construction projects in Vietnam and Indonesia.

ESS is one of the keys with which South Korea can accomplish the energy efficiency-driven Pax Koreana because the country leads the world in ESS technologies, according to Kim.

Other key technologies that Daesung is investing in include power generation using various gravitational forces ― which Kim called "the most universal and cleanest force" ― and growing electricity-producing microbes.






By Ko Dong-hwan



Read More

1 2 3 4 5