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S. Korea behind in technology, investment in new energy: report

All News 14:20 January 03, 2018

SEOUL, Jan. 3 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's technology level and investment in the new energy industry lag behind leading nations while the gap in energy self-sufficiency is widening by region due to a lack of microgrids, a report said Wednesday.

The report by Hyundai Research Institute gave South Korea 78.3 points out of 100 for its energy technology in comparison to the most advanced nations. The United States, Japan and the European Union all garnered above 90 points.

South Korea's research and development in renewable energy amounted to US$180 million in 2015, about 19.8 percent of the top-investing United States. The sum is about one-third of $490 million used by Japan.

The report highlighted the lack of microgrids, a means of power supply growing in use in advanced countries. Because microgrids are not actively promoted, the regional power self-sufficiency gap is widening, the think tank report said.

Use of renewable energy is low in South Korea, accounting for 1.9 percent of total use in 2015. The figure is less than Japan's 16 percent, Germany's 29.2 percent and Britain's 24.8 percent, according to the report.

The South Korean government's renewable energy budget was 971.3 billion won in 2012 but fell to 720.8 billion won last year.

The report referred to a finding in a 2014 survey by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which showed South Koreans were willing to pay $1.35 to use renewable energy, compared to $16.55 by Japanese and $9.15 by Americans. It becomes even harder for eco-friendly but more expensive energy to expand in South Korea when the government prioritizes supplying the most economical sources of power, the report pointed out.

The government needs to establish specific goals and action plans to promote microgrids and R&D investment in renewable energy, energy storage and new energy projects, the report said.

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