Posted : 2014-04-20 12:56
Updated : 2014-04-20 12:56

Gov't to ease restrictions on renewable energy development

The government will move to lift regulatory restrictions on the development of renewable energy to fuel investment in this critical field, the government said Sunday.

According to the finance ministry, it plans to recommend the easing of unnecessary rules across the board so as to fuel innovation and investment in technologies that can allow growth in such areas as wind, solar and geothermal power generation.

Extensive studies are under way, with its findings to be forwarded at the next trade and investment promotion meeting set for the second half of the year, the ministry said. The meeting chaired by the president aims to get rid of outdated restrictions cited for impeding investment and economic growth.

"The goal is to remove red tape and find better ways to facilitate investment," the ministry said. "Action needs to be taken as soon as possible if the country is to play a leading role in the development of renewable energy down the line."

Such a stance has been echoed by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, which has pledged to remove "lump restrictions" cited for holding back land-based wind power generation. The ministry has earmarked 200 billion won (US$192 million) to build wind farms in four areas.

Reports by the Export-Import Bank of Korea showed South Korea only accounted for 0.17 percent of all wind power generators in the world. It cited various environmental restrictions holding back development and wider use of the renewable resource.

Despite such calls, local civic groups have opposed development of land-based wind power generation, claiming such a move can result in considerable damage to the environment and affect the lives of people living nearby.

Beside efforts to build up the country's renewable energy infrastructure, the industry ministry also announced a plan to take steps to find another natural gas well like the one currently in operation in the East Sea. South Korea currently has the Donghae-1 gas field, which was discovered in 1998. The field can produce 50 million cubic meters of gas and 1,000 barrels of light crude oil per day.

It said the master plan will be established by September, which will call for resources and personnel to be injected into finding undersea reserves off the coast.

Under a similar blueprint announced in 2009, Seoul said it will carry out drilling along South Korea's continental shelf up till 2018 that can lead to securing more than 100 million barrels' equivalent of crude oil.

From 2015 onwards, the country plans to develop gas hydrates that can augment natural gas imports.

Gas hydrates refer to a semisolid mixture of methane gas and water molecules that are created through a combination of water pressure and cold temperatures found in deep ocean bottoms.

There have been speculations that up to 1 billion tons of gas hydrates can be used along the Ulleung Basin in the East Sea. If such reserves can be extracted safely and economically, it could greatly improve South Korea's self sufficiency in natural gas, which it currently imports from Southeast Asia and the Middle East. (Yonhap)

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