1 company controls most of South Korea’s electricity supply

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One company owns more than 70% of South Korea’s power generation capacity.

The country’s overall operational generation capacity stands at around 121 GW, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence, with natural gas and coal resources accounting for nearly two-thirds of the total and nuclear accounting for another 20%.

Just over half of the nearly 30 GW planned capacity comes from gas and coal, according to Market Intelligence, with new nuclear and wind also contributing.

According to the World Nuclear Association, four nuclear units at two sites totaling 5.6 GW are under construction and are expected to enter service by 2024.

South Korea’s power grid is isolated from all neighboring countries and imports most of its fuel needs.

Korea Electric Power Corp., known as KEPCO, has 101 GW of operational and planned generation capacity, according to Market Intelligence data, as well as the country’s transmission and distribution networks. Its ownership includes the Korean government, the government-owned Korea Development Bank, and the country’s national pension service.

The company includes five regional electricity production subsidiaries and a sixth which owns, among other things, all of the 24 nuclear units in operation.

KEPCO is also developing power plants outside South Korea, including the four-unit Barakah nuclear power plant in the United Arab Emirates, which was connected to the grid in 2020. In total, the company has developed nearly 50 projects in 24 country.

In 2020, one of KEPCO’s power generation subsidiaries, Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co. Ltd., acquired a 49.9% stake in an 852 MW portfolio of wind assets in the United States.

According to the International Energy Agency, South Korea is targeting renewable energy resources to account for 20% of its electricity generation mix by 2030 and 30% to 35% by 2040.

In this target, there are specific objectives for offshore wind, and this has attracted some international players. Among them are oil company Equinor ASA, headquartered in Norway, which partnered in late 2021 with KEPCO’s Korean subsidiary East-West Power Co. for a 3 GW development, and Danish offshore wind developer Ørsted A/S, which in January reached agreements with two other KEPCO subsidiaries on a 1.6 GW development.

In addition, the major French oil company TotalEnergies SE has obtained an electrical commercial license for a three-phase floating offshore wind installation of up to 1.5 GW.

On April 6, Germany-based investment management company Aquila Capital Holdings GmbH partnered with South Korean renewable energy asset development company TopInfra with a pipeline of 430MW of projects. solar and 1,000 MW of wind projects, as well as battery energy storage systems.


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