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Electricity in South Korea in 2023

Global Ranking: #18
38.3% #84 Low-carbon electricity
57.33 % #16 Electrification
1352.75 watts #13 Generation / person
425.70 gCO2eq/kWh #106 Carbon Intensity

In 2023, South Korea's electricity consumption is predominantly reliant on fossil fuels, with about 62% of its electricity generated from coal and gas. Coal alone contributes a third of the total electricity, while gas accounts for nearly 28%. On the other hand, low-carbon energy sources make up just over 38% of the electricity mix. Among these, nuclear power is the most substantial, generating nearly 30% of the country's electricity, positioning it as a major player in the low-carbon category. Solar energy contributes close to 5%, while biofuels cover about 3%, reflecting a modest but growing interest in cleaner energy alternatives.


To increase its low-carbon electricity generation, South Korea can expand its existing nuclear power capacity, which already plays a significant role. Nuclear energy not only provides a steady stream of electricity but also helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change. South Korea can draw inspiration from countries like France, where nuclear energy contributes to 65% of electricity and from Slovakia and Ukraine, where nuclear power accounts for 62% and 55% respectively. Additionally, embracing more wind energy, like Denmark, where wind generates 53% of electricity, and Uruguay at 35%, could further diversify and stabilize South Korea's clean energy portfolio.


Historically, South Korea has seen significant fluctuations in its nuclear electricity generation. In the mid-1980s, nuclear energy surged with substantial increases of over 10 TWh annually. The trend continued through the 1990s with some notable peaks, such as a rise of 13.4 TWh in 1999. The upward trajectory continued into the early 2000s, marked by increases like 16.1 TWh in 2005, but the following decade witnessed some setbacks, notably drops by 11.5 TWh in 2013 and 13.6 TWh in 2017. However, nuclear generation made a strong comeback in recent years, with significant increases of 12.4 TWh in 2019 and 14.3 TWh in 2020. Solar energy also saw a notable increase of 6.3 TWh in 2020, further emphasizing South Korea’s ongoing commitment to low-carbon electricity. In 2022, nuclear power generation surged again by 18 TWh, highlighting its pivotal role in South Korea’s clean energy strategy.

Electricity Imports and Exports

Balance of Trade

Data Sources

For the years 1980 to 1984 the data source is EIA.
For the years 1985 to 2012 the data source is Energy Institute.
For the years 2013 to 2019 the data source is IEA.
For the years 2020 to 2022 the data source is Energy Institute.
For the year 2023 the data source is Ember.
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