Global Insider: Resource-Hungry South Korea Turns to Green Diplomacy

South Korea signed a 20-year deal to import liquefied natural gas from Qatar during a visit by South Korean President Lee Myung-bak to the Persian Gulf state last month. In an email interview, Jae-Seung Lee, a visiting scholar at Stanford University’s Korea Studies Program and a professor at Korea University, discussed South Korea’s energy security.

WPR: What is the breakdown of South Korea's energy consumption, in terms of fuel types and sources?

Jae-Seung Lee: Oil is still dominant in South Korea’s primary energy consumption, currently making up 39.7 percent, although this has decreased substantially from its peak of 52 percent in 2010. Coal consumption is 28.9 percent, reflecting its use in power generation, for which it accounts for 41.7 percent. Liquefied natural gas (LNG) consumption has rapidly increased from 9.8 percent in 2000 to 16.4 percent in 2010. Nuclear energy comprises 12.2 percent of primary energy consumption and provides 31.3 percent of electricity generation. The portion of hydropower and renewable energy was 2.8 percent in 2010. The country’s recent Green Growth strategy aims to increase the use of renewable energies and set a target of 11 percent of energy consumption by 2030.

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