for Children

Energy Challenges


  To power its diverse economy Korea relies on energy generation from a variety of sources. Transportation generally relies on petroleum products, such as gasoline and diesel, for an energy source. Commercial and industrial buildings, as well as residences and institutional buildings, such as schools, largely depend on electricity for their energy. Thermal sources of electricity are the result of combustion (burning) of a fuel that heats water to run steam generators. Examples include coal liquefied natural gas (LNG). Coal combustion has some environmental problems and puts some pollutants into the air. LNG burns more cleanly, but there are also environmental problems associated with the collection of natural gas. These thermal power sources, fairly evenly distributed across the country, add carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. Korea has 23 nuclear power plants concentrated in three areas:

  Busan, Gyeongsangbuk-do, and Jeollanam-do. Nuclear power has no pollution emission, but it does generate nuclear waste and there are some risks associated with nuclear power generation. Even water power requires damming of streams with the associated environmental problems. In 2013, the energy sector accounted for the largest portion of greenhouse gas emissions in Korea, estimated at 606.2 million tons of carbon dioxide. The Korean government established the Greenhouse Gas Inventory and Research Center of Korea (GIR) which conducts monitoring and research on greenhouse gas emissions. Because of the environmental effects of more traditional sources of power, many industrialized nations.