Total energy production distribution South Korea 2018, by source

South Korea is one of the world’s richest and most productive countries, but it has an export-oriented economy and lacks natural resources such as petroleum or metals and minerals. As such, Korea imports large quantities of petroleum for power generation, with domestic energy production dependent chiefly on nuclear power, and in recent years, renewable energy sources. The energy generated from renewable energy sources increased by over 13 times in the past thirteen years.

Nuclear Energy in South Korea

There are around two dozen operational nuclear reactors in Korea as of 2020 at four locations, mostly at the south-eastern coast. Korea initially planned to increase its reliance on nuclear energy, but following the Japanese Fukushima nuclear disaster, the current government has announced its plans to phase out nuclear energy entirely. Nuclear power plants are significant contributors to the South Korean energy grid, accounting for nearly 60 percent of the total energy production in South Korea in 2018. This share excludes petroleum as an energy source because there are no domestic sources of petroleum. All petroleum is imported by ship from overseas. Nuclear power had a capacity of around 22 gigawatts in 2018, against a national (electric) power capacity of around 119 gigawatts.

Renewable Energy in South Korea

South Korea has long-term plans to greatly increase its reliance on the so-called renewable energy sources such as photovoltaics (PV), wind energy, bioenergy, etc. This is possible in part because the cost has dropped over the past decade, while the efficiency of PV solar cells, for example, has increased. The Korean government’s stated goal is to have renewable energy sources account for 20 percent of total power generation by 2030. Over half of that capacity is planned to be from solar power, with wind power making up around a third. This would require increasing the power generation capacity of solar power from approximately 6 GW in 2017 to over 36 GW in 2030, and capacity of wind power from around one GW to nearly 18. Over 90 percent of the new capacity that would have to be introduced would be for solar power and wind power.

Distribution of the total energy production in South Korea in 2018, by source

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Release date

March 2020


South Korea

Survey time period


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Statistics on "Energy sector in South Korea"

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