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South Korea towards nuclear energy, starts the construction of two reactors

South Korea towards nuclear energy, starts the construction of two reactors

South Korea, one of the world's most fossil fuel-dependent economies, is re-embracing nuclear power, with the government announcing on Tuesday that it will restart construction of two nuclear reactors and extend the lives of those already in operation.

By 2030, the Ministry of Energy wants nuclear to account for at least 30% of the country's energy production, a step up from its previous target of 27%.

To meet this, South Korea is resuming construction of two new reactors at the Hanul nuclear power plant on the country's east coast. Construction of the two reactors has been stalled since 2017, when former President Moon Jae-in, who had pushed hard to phase out nuclear power.

But with a new President in office, South Korea's nuclear industry is back in full swing.

Yoon Suk Yeol, who took over the role in May, criticized Moon's stance on nuclear power.

Work on the new reactors follows the "highest decision-making procedures of the Yoon administration," the Energy Ministry said Tuesday, adding that it will investigate how to handle "high-level radioactive waste."

The country will continue to work to phase out coal, the Energy Ministry said on Tuesday, and aims to reduce fossil fuel imports to 60% of the country's total energy supply by 2030, compared to 81.8% in 2021.

But the investment pouring into nuclear power could come at the cost of other renewable energy efforts, with the ministry saying its renewable targets will be "reset". He did not give specific figures for the new targets.

"The specific ratio of different energy sources, such as solar and wind power (offshore), must be determined for an optimal result," the ministry said. "The use of zero-carbon energy sources must take into account the technological circumstances."

He added that a "feasible and reasonable energy mix" should be created.

During his presidency, Moon pledged to make the country carbon neutral by 2050 and shift the energy balance from nuclear power and fossil fuels to renewables and natural gas. A number of his initiatives included the promotion of renewable energy production and the use of electric vehicles.

The use of nuclear power came into question around the world after the meltdown at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi power plant, following a devastating earthquake and tsunami in 2011. Some countries, including Germany, vowed to phase it out altogether.

But in South Korea, nuclear power has long been big business. The country lacks natural resources and relies heavily on importing energy supplies from other countries.

According to the World Nuclear Association, 25 domestic nuclear power plants provide about a third of South Korea's electricity needs.

The country is also a major exporter of nuclear technology to the world and is involved in the construction of the UAE's first nuclear power plant.

Source: CNN

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