After Record 2020, South Korea To See Moderation In Solar Growth

After Record 2020, South Korea To See Moderation In Solar Growth

South Korea, which has emerged as an unexpected bright spot for growth in the past three years, added almost 4.1 GW of solar in 2020.That places the country well above other relatively large markets like India for instance, which added barely 3.2 GW in 2020.

The large additions in South Korea have been a function of resilience during the pandemic as well as the country’s target driven approach. The country is likely to be at 15.7 GW by 2020, making its target of 30.8GW of Solar by 2030 well within reach. In fact, that might be one reason many regional authorities have tightened norms for project sites in the country, which will lead to 2020 probably ending as the  best year on record for the country for some time to come. 2021 installations are expected to  be a maximum of 3 GW, according to the Korea Photovoltaic Industry Association (KOPIA). South Korea also has a strong manufacturing base for solar power, particularly modules and solar cells.

However, with the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) planning tenders for 4 GW of capacity through two tenders, coupled with ambitious floating solar plans, that include an additional 2.1 GW  park, overall solar installations will continue. Shooting past the 2030 targets might require significant improvements in solar efficiency, as the country is not as fortunate in sunshine days as many others , like India. Moves to allow consumers to buy directly from solar producers will also add a fillip to growth possibly.

South Korea has also been a big investor in tidal energy to shore up its renewable goals, with the world’slarest tial energy plant, the 254 MW Sihwa Lake Tidal Power Station, present in the county. Future plans include another 2.1 GW from tidal energy.

Korea happens to have the highest dependence on fossil fuels among large industrial economies, and the country’s post recovery plan includes a green new deal that will focus on increasing the share of renewable energy as well as a focus on green hydrogen.

In 2018 fossil fuels accounted for 85% of total primary energy supply (TPES), a strong dependence on energy imports at 84% of TPES, and the dominance of industrial energy use at 55% of total final consumption, the highest share among IEA countries. In 2018, Korea had the lowest share of energy from renewable sources in energy supply among all IEA countries.

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