Feasibility trade-offs in decarbonising the power sector with high coal dependence: The case of Korea
Decarbonising the power sector requires feasible strategies for the rapid phase-out of fossil fuels and the expansion of low-carbon sources. This study assesses the feasibility of plausible decarbonisation scenarios for the power sector in the Republic of Korea through 2050 and 2060. Our power plant stock accounting model results show that achieving zero emissions from the power sector by the mid-century requires either an ambitious expansion of renewables backed by gas-fired generation equipped with carbon capture and storage or a significant increase of nuclear power. The first strategy implies replicating and maintaining for decades the maximum growth rates of solar power achieved in leading countries and becoming an early and ambitious adopter of the carbon capture and storage technology. The alternative expansion of nuclear power has historical precedents in Korea and other countries but may not be acceptable in the current political and regulatory environment. Hence, our analysis shows that the potential hurdles for decarbonisation in the power sector in Korea are formidable but manageable and should be overcome over the coming years, which gives hope to other similar countries.
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