A Greener Grid for East Asia
SYDNEY – Not long ago, the future of nuclear power was in Asia. In 2015, nine of the ten reactors that opened globally were on the continent. But recent declarations by South Korea and Taiwan that they will “go green” have called into question nuclear power’s long-term viability, at least in East Asia. Indeed, 2017 may mark the end of the region’s nuclear love affair – and the start of a new one with renewables.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen have both set ambitious national agendas to boost renewable energy generation while calling for a phase-out of nuclear. For years, overreliance on traditional fuels discouraged investment in clean technologies for power generation, despite the fact that both countries are innovators in green industries, like energy storage and smart grids. Whereas 22% of South Korea’s energy needs, and 14% of Taiwan’s, are met by nuclear, those ratios are now set to drop dramatically.
Blueprints are still being formulated, but taken together the two countries’ commitments mark a major shift in regional energy planning toward greener, cleaner technologies. Moreover, they will pave the way for increased investment in renewable-power installations, placing their countries on a new competitive footing in the regional market.