As of 2022, South Korea's electricity consumption heavily relies on fossil fuels, accounting for close to 63% of the total, with coal and gas making up around 34% and 28% respectively. The remaining 37% of the electricity generated comes from low-carbon sources, featuring an almost one-third contribution from nuclear energy and close to 5% from solar. Biofuels, hydropower, wind, and other unspecified sources contribute to the lesser part of the low-carbon pie, each representing considerably less than 5% of the total electricity generated. South Korea, however, neither imports nor exports any electricity from and to other nations.
South Korea has the potential to significantly increase its low-carbon electricity generation, especially through the expansion of its existing nuclear facilities, while exploring wind and solar opportunities. Countries such as France and Ukraine, for instance, are prolific at generating energy with nuclear power, accounting for 61% and 58% of their total electricity respectively. Furthermore, South Korea can glean valuable insights from countries like Denmark and Ireland where wind power contributes to more than half and one-third of their electricity generation. Countries that have successfully incorporated solar power into their energy mix, like Chile and Jordan, can also serve as models for South Korea.
Tracing the history of low-carbon electricity in South Korea, we see a clear emphasis on nuclear power as a primary source of clean energy, dating back to the late 20th century. In the mid 80s, South Korea's nuclear power generation increased steadily, rising by over 11 TWh in 1986 and 1987. In the following couple decades, the growth fluctuated, hitting a significant surge of 18.1 TWh added to the grid in 2022. Despite minor setbacks in 2017 and 2018, where nuclear generation decreased drastically, the sector strong recovery and continued growth are notable. Past decade has also marked the rise of other low-carbon energy sources, particularly solar and biofuels, both of which have seen an impressive increase of over 6 TWh in 2021.