Korea plans to spend 1.03 trillion won ($947 million) this year to promote renewable energy development research and nuclear safety projects, the government said Monday.
The amount represents a 3.1 percent gain from 1.01 trillion won spent on energy R&D in 2010. The sum is equal to 6.9 percent of the government’s overall R&D plan of 14.9 trillion won set aside for this year.
The Ministry of Knowledge Economy said this year’s money will be used in 69 technology support projects in 10 key areas to help reduce the country’s dependence on fossil fuel and acquire technologies that can enhance safe power generation.
Of the total, renewable energy and energy efficiency support will get 223.3 billion won and 215.3 billion won, respectively, followed by 108.8 billion won allocated to energy generation and so-called smart grid projects.
Over 110.1 billion won will be spent on nuclear energy, the ministry said, adding 13 projects, including so-called base isolation R&D, will focus on making nuclear reactors safer from earthquakes.
Such projects are expected to improve safety of the country’s 21 operational reactors and make locally designed reactors more attractive in the export market.
The ministry said energy R&D support has taken on new importance this year with the sharp rise in fossil fuel prices caused by unrest in some North African and Middle East countries, and public concerns about nuclear safety.
Seoul, which imports 97 percent of its energy resources from abroad, has steadily invested money in energy research and development (R&D) projects in the past, with policymakers paying close attention to atomic energy safety this year following the disaster at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power station.