Seoul Seeks US Collaboration on Green Technology
By Kim Tong-hyung
Korea hopes for broader collaboration with the United States in efforts to develop renewable energy solutions and clean technologies, government officials in Seoul said Monday.
Talking with reporters at an American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM)-arranged event at a southern Seoul hotel, Knowledge Economy Minister Lee Youn-ho said that green technology will be a key topic when he leads a Korean delegation to Washington later this month for talks with American policymakers.
Governments around the world are touting the environmental content of their fiscal stimulus programs, and Korea and the U.S. have both announced a series of policies that reveal a serious green commitment.
Lee stressed that the two countries could generate synergies in a broad range of new energy-saving technologies, including ``smart grid'' solutions, which use information technology to improve the efficiency of electricity transmission.
``Both countries see green growth as their vision for new economic growth, so mutual cooperation could allow both countries to reach new heights,'' said Lee, in a meeting also attended by former AMCHAM Korea Chairman William Oberlin and MetLife Korea chief executive Stuart Solomon.
``Both countries are planning to channel investment to the green sector to develop new technologies and create new business opportunities. We could reach our economic goals faster if we are able to blend our strengths and complement each other.''
The Lee Myung-bak government is touting itself as the loudest member on the green bandwagon. More than 80 percent of the Korea's announced stimulus package will be for green projects, according to numbers by the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC), which is easily the highest proportion in the world.
Under a motto of ``low carbon, green growth,'' Korea plans to spend more than 50 trillion won (about $40 billion) through 2012 to build green homes and buildings, research low-carbon technologies and energy-efficient high-tech solutions, and also expand high-speed railways and other types of ``sustainable'' transport.
Korea also aims to become the first country in the world to have a ``smart national grid,'' delivering electricity from suppliers to consumers using digital technology, enabling the devices to communicate with the utility firms, which could save energy, reduce costs and increase reliability.
The U.S. government is also showing stronger interest in green technologies under new President Barack Obama, pushing a goal to generate 25 percent of the country's energy from renewable sources by 2025, which means more investment in various technologies including solar, wind, geothermal power and bio-fuels.
Minister Lee said that the Korean government is considering stronger support for foreign investors looking to bet on the country's emerging green industries, especially markets that are expected to have significant and immediate economic impacts.
Lee also claimed that a quick ratification of the free trade agreement (FTA) between the two countries would be the key to enabling effective collaboration in green technology.