Industry minister stresses nuclear power use to overcome crisis

South Korea should raise export competitiveness and make full use of nuclear power to tide over the global inflation and energy shock, Industry Minister Lee Chang-yang said Wednesday(6 July).

“The global inflation and the energy price hike have shocked our economy. As Korea is highly dependent on energy imports, we are fully affected by both,” Lee said in a press conference in Sejong.

“We need to do two things. We must raise export competitiveness as much as possible, and make full use of nuclear power plants to buffer the energy shock while raising efficiency in energy use.”

The Yoon Suk-yeol administration scrapped the preceding Moon Jae-in administration’s nuclear phase-out policy, and vowed to increase nuclear power generation to 30 percent of the country’s total energy output by 2030.

Noting that the gist of the Yoon administration’s recently announced energy policy is to strengthen the role of nuclear power plants, energy security and raise energy efficiency, Lee said the country would remain vulnerable to energy shocks if it did not reform its current system of high consumption and low efficiency.

There were suggestions during the Cabinet meeting to make Seoul an energy smart city, Lee said, adding that in New York, a law that requires buildings to meet energy efficiency limits has been passed.

Regarding concerns of a stagflation, he said the most important thing in stopping prices from rising is to increase productivity.

The Industry Ministry is in talks with the Finance Ministry to give tax credits for plant and equipment investment to enhance productivity, the minister said.

As regulatory reform is another way to promote companies’ investment, the ministry will soon announce eased regulations on chemicals, he said.

About his recent visit to the Czech Republic and Poland to promote South Korean nuclear power plants, Lee said while he can’t elaborate on the details, Korean nuclear power plant builders have a good reputation abroad for their construction, maintenance and repair and operational capabilities, and the chances for exports are high.

Lee added that the two eastern European countries agreed to support Korea’s bid to host the 2030 World Expo in Busan.

A comprehensive set of policy measures for the semiconductor industry to be unveiled later this month will include plans to foster other related industries such as batteries, display, artificial intelligence and robots, according to the minister.

As for the massive deficit of the state-run Korea Electric Power Corp., Lee said it was in a way unavoidable due to the energy price hike, and that its pricing system should be revised.



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