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Pivot to Renewables Brings South Korean TV to Energy Commission



California’s success with renewable energy is drawing interest from South Korea, which is pivoting from fossil fuels to clean energy.

As a result, the South Korean Broadcasting Service recently interviewed California Energy Commissioner David Hochschild.

The Koreans asked whether California would meet the state’s goal of providing 50 percent of its electric energy retail sales from renewable energy by 2030.

Hochschild said that California is on pace to meet that goal.

“In 2016, California received 29 percent of electricity retail sales from renewable energy,” said Hochschild.

South Korea ranks 68th in installed renewable energy capacity globally. It wants to increase its renewable energy use from 5 percent currently to 20 percent by 2030.

To do so, South Korean President Moon Jae-in recently introduced a proposal to discourage coal and nuclear energy while promoting the development of renewables like wind and solar.

Hochschild said the adoption of solar and offshore wind will be elemental in helping South Korea’s clean energy goals.

Seventy percent of South Korea’s electricity comes from thermal coal and nuclear energy, which are given tax incentives. The country plans to wean itself off coal by retiring some of its aging coal-fired power plants.

Moon has pledged to permanently close all coal plants that are 30 years or older during his presidential term, which is 2017 to 2022.

Another issue raised during the interview was concern about increased energy prices. Hochschild said prices for solar and wind energy in the United States have never been lower, with their costs lower than for coal and other fossil fuels.

The U.S. Department of Energy and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory recently reported that the median installed price for utility-scale photovoltaic systems in the U.S. has dropped by almost 60 percent since 2007. It is now around $2.7 per watt.

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Renewable Energy

California Energy Commission

The California Energy Commission is the state's primary energy policy and planning agency created by the Legislature in 1974.
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