South Korea

Index rank 64

Balance Score


Energy Sustainability Index Rankings and Balance Score

 2011  2012  2013  Trend Score
Energy Performance  73  72  85   
Energy Security  92  89  103  D
Energy Equity  39  32  49  B
Environmental Sustainability  81  86  85  C
Contextual Performance  22  21  16   
Political Strength  41  41  37   
Societal Strength  27  26  26   
Economic Strength  12  11  9   
Overall Rank  55  54  64  BCD
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Fossil Fuel Reserves

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Key Metrics

Industrial sector (% of GDP) 0.0
TPEP / TPEC  (net energy importer) 0.14
Emission intensity (kg CO2 per USD) 0.43
Energy affordability (USD per kWh) 0.09
GDP / capita (PPP, USD); GDP Group 31,220 (II)
Energy intensity (million BTU per USD) 0.19
CO2 emissions (metric tons CO2 per capita) 12.01
Population Access to Electricity (%) 93.3
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Index Commentary

Korea drops 10 places in the Index, mostly due to deteriorations in energy security and energy equity. Korea has a low level of energy security and struggles with mitigating its environmental impact, but performs better on the energy equity dimension. Korea continues to be heavily reliant on fuel imports and its energy import to export ratio worsens this year. A decline in energy equity performance is driven by rising gasoline prices and a considerable drop in the perceived quality of electricity but nevertheless, this energy dimension remains Korea’s strongest. Indicators measuring environmental sustainability are all constant, with the exception of a minor increase in CO2 emissions from electricity generation. Contextual performance is good, especially on indicators of economic strength, and this year sees good progress made in increasing political strength, the weakest of Korea’s three contextual dimensions.

Trends and Outlook

Energy Security remains a major challenge with a very low stability of resource supplies and an energy import dependency of around 97%. As a counter measure Korea (Republic) has invested in overseas resource development, but this brings new challenges such as low production capacity, lack of human resources, technical skills and so on. There are environmental sustainability calls for action given the high energy intensity levels, growing energy consumption and increasing GHG emissions.

Recent policy measures to enhance energy security include: 1) expanding cooperation with resource-rich countries; 2) strengthening the competitiveness of energy developing companies; and 3) establishing the Overseas Resource Development Fund to fund energy development projects in addition to giving government loans and guarantees. Environmental sustainability policy measures include: 1) the expansion of renewable energy with targets until 2030; 2) the shift from government-financed feed-in-tariffs to a renewable portfolio standard in 2012 to create new demand for renewable energy; and 3) the strong support of RD&D. Nuclear energy plays an essential role in the countries energy system in terms of energy security, economics, climate change and load demand.

Policymakers need to continue focusing on: 1) the enhancement of overseas energy development; 2) the development of renewable energy; and 3) the expansion of the nuclear power sector considering safety issues, waste disposal, and increasing public acceptance by providing objective information and being transparent.