South Korea's energy dependency 1990-2015

South Korea is one of the world’s wealthiest and most productive countries, but it has an export-oriented, manufacturing economy and severely lacks natural resources. This includes petroleum, for example, used both for energy production and for material production. Korea has a modest supply of coal, which helped fuel Korea’s initial economic growth in the late-20th century. In recent years, natural gases were also discovered at the bottom of the seas around Korea.

Energy imports to South Korea

Unsurprisingly, a large portion of Korea’s energy generation comes from imported energy sources, with imports making up over eighty percent of Korea’s energy use since at least 2007. Total energy imports amounted to around 110 billion U.S. dollars in 2017. Around 60 percent of these imports were oil (petroleum), as of 2018, worth around 78 billion dollars. Approximately three-quarters of petroleum imports came via tankers from the Persian Gulf. Outside of the Middle Eastern countries, the U.S. was the next largest country from which oil was imported.

Nuclear energy in South Korea

Nuclear power accounts for a significant part of energy production in Korea from domestic sources, up to sixty percent of the total energy production in South Korea in 2018. Meanwhile, nuclear power had a capacity of around 22 gigawatts in 2018, against a national power capacity of around 119 gigawatts. In recent years, following the Japanese Fukushima nuclear disaster, the Korean government announced its plans to phase out nuclear energy. Reactors already under construction will be completed, but no more will be built. Instead, the Korean government hopes to foster the growth of renewable energy sources to replace nuclear energy. The Korean government’s stated goal is to have renewable energy sources account for 20 percent of total power generation by 2030.

Net energy imports as a percentage of energy use in South Korea from 1990 to 2015

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South Korea

Survey time period

1990 to 2015

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Statistics on "Energy sector in South Korea"

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