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Don’t Expect Korea To Reduce Emissions!

September 23, 2016

By Paul Homewood  




Beware con merchants bearing renewables!

From PEI:


South Korea will invest $27bn in renewables and from next year begin to retire 10 coal-fired power plants.

The dramatic statement of intent on sustainability was revealed this morning by the country’s Second Vice-Minister of Energy, Taehee Woo.

Delivering the opening speech at Asia Power Week in Seoul, he said that South Korea had set an ambitious target to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 37 per cent by 2030, and added that energy storage, windpower and solar would all play a key role.

Woo said that “the power industry is undergoing profound transformation”.

 South Korea Second Vice-Minister of Energy, Taehee Woo


“The traditional power business model cannot maintain its competitiveness”, he said. “The grid has to become smarter.”

He said another key strand of Korea’s emissions-reduction would involve retrofitting its existing plants with supercritical technology.

The retrofitting theme was taken up by Heung-Gweon Park of Doosan who said that retrofitting “could be the stepping stone” for Asia’s decarbonisation.

“I understand that extending the life of a coal plant does not sound very attractive,” he said, but added that all coal plants in South Korea will be supercritical by the end of the next decade.

And after stating that developed countries such as those in Europe had “relatively well-managed the transition to renewables”, he warned that “such a drastic transition in Asia could prove to be an unbearable shock”.

At a press conference later in the morning, GE Power president Steve Bolze also stressed the importance of overhauling South Korea’s existing plants for the country to meet its greenhouse gas reduction target.

But Bolze went to on say that GE would also be installing its most cutting-edge technology in the next generation of Korea’s combined-cycle plants.

He referenced GE’s new plant for EDF at Bouchain in France, which this year entered the Guinness Book of Records for the most efficient gas turbine, and said: “We have a project in Korea that will be at the same performance – if not higher.”


It is particularly sad when a supposedly expert energy news site, like PEI, fall for such ridiculous guff.


1) South Korea had set an ambitious target to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 37 per cent by 2030.




If PEI had bothered to check the facts, rather than the spin, they might have discovered that the target is to cut GHG by 37% from BUSINESS AS USUAL.

This, of course, can mean anything the Koreans want it to mean.

This is Korea’s INDC for Paris:





According to them, if they carry on emitting more and more GHGs, emissions would reach 850 MtCO2e by 2030. Their pledge of a 37% cut would bring this down to 536 MtCO2e.

Brilliant, I hear you call. How kindly of them!

One slight problem though. According to the UNFCCC, this will simply bring back Korea’s emissions to 2009 levels. (Land use changes show as a negative on the chart).






No doubt Korea, like many other countries, are shutting down old coal plants. That does not mean they are not building new ones. 

Indeed, as the account above shows, they are busy retrofitting old coal power stations to make them more efficient.  


2) Korea is classified as a “developing” country


As far as the UNFCCC is concerned, Korea, along with China, India and other highly developed countries, is inexplicably designated as a developing country. a hangover from the early 1990s, when much of this nonsense started.

This means that their pledges under the Paris Agreement are exempted from any obligation, moral or legal, to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. They are no more than statements of intent, which can be ignored and overturned at whim, whenever inconvenient.



3) Investment in renewables


Korea’s INDC is noticeably absent of any target for renewable energy, and I mean any.

They insist that targets were set in 2009 for drastic reductions in GHGs by 2020.

The evidence from the graph above proves that the opposite has been occurring.

As for renewable energy, the BP Energy Review 2016 shows just how worthless this promise has been:




Renewables supplied a pathetic 0.6% of Korea’s primary energy consumption last year.





PEI has, as far as I am aware, no axe to grind in these matters. Normally I find they provide expert and unbiased analysis of energy matters. But for them to fall for this sort of ridiculous spin, without even bothering to challenge or question the facts, shows just how far the MSM has allowed itself to be indoctrinated by climate scamsters.

  1. September 23, 2016 9:20 pm

    I was curious about part of PEI so checked both BW and Siemens before commenting. You cannot ‘retrofit’ USC. You can reuse existing coal storage and pulverizing, cooling towers, flue gas treatment (scrubbers and precipitators on the stack, and the electrical substation. But supercritical or ultrasupercritical steam requires a new boiler, a new steam turbine, and that means also a new generator since built onto an extension of the turbine shaft and sold as a single unit. Whether the new stuff fits in the old boiler and turbine houses depends, but those shells are cheap. In essence, Korea is closing old coal and building new USC coal on the same physical sites. The efficiency difference is appreciable. In the US, the fleet of subcritical coal stations averages about 34% efficient. New USC from Siemens runs 44-45% depending on unit size. So a quite appreciable cut in CO2/ MWh of generation from BAU subcritical coal. No need to throw intermittent renewables into the Korea mix to meet their cleverly worded NDIC.
    US has only one USC, medium sized Turk in Arkansas, construction start 2008 at the beginning of the fracked shale revolution. Reason is that with abundent fracked natural gas, CCGT is better and cheaper. 61% efficient, about half the initial capital cost <$1500/kw versus ~$3000/kw for USC, two years to install versus 3-4 years, and ~40% the CO2 of USC coal.
    For Korea, importing Australian steam coal is undoubtedly cheaper than importing LNG.

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      September 23, 2016 10:44 pm

      There may be some quite cheap Australian LNG before too long. Much depends on how much coal and LNG China absorbs.

      • AlecM permalink
        September 24, 2016 9:39 am

        My son is commissioning the LNG liquefaction plant in Port Hedland WA.

  2. Bloke down the pub permalink
    September 24, 2016 10:04 am

    I wouldn’t describe PEi as MSM. As a specialist publication they should have higher standards than your average daily rag where a non-expert might be asked by his editor for some column inches to fill a gap. I know though,from reading specialist publications in other fields, that much of what they print is cut and paste from press releases, appearing word for word in many different sites. Your basic tenet that their journos should look beyond the hype applies in spades to PEi.

  3. Dave Ward permalink
    September 24, 2016 6:35 pm

    “Developed countries such as those in Europe had “relatively well-managed the transition to renewables”

    What “transition” would that be? Even Germany – the bastion of “Green” excellence – wouldn’t last more than a few hours, if all their fossil fuel plants were permanently shut down. As for the rest of us – the overall contribution of “renewable” energy is insignificant…

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