South Korea will set a cap on temperature levels in public buildings this winter to curtail power consumption amid the intensifying global power crisis prompted by growing fuel costs, as reported by Bloomberg on October 18. According to the Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy (MOTIE), temperatures in the country’s state-owned buildings, including government offices, public schools, and sports centers, will be kept below 17°C (63°F) from October 18 this year to the end of March 2023. The MOTIE also stated that over 1,000 public institutions will be subject to the new measures, and those who fail to comply with the regulations will pay penalties of up to KRW3m (USD2,100).
The Russia-Ukraine war has disrupted fossil fuel supplies worldwide. The surging gas prices have increased the burden of South Korean energy suppliers, such as Korea Electric Power (KEP) [015760:KS] and Korea Gas [036460:KS]. The KEP has called on the government to ease the restrictions on carbon emissions and the use of coal, which is cheaper but dirtier than natural gas. In response, the MOTIE stated late September that it will restrict energy demand, raise gas prices for city gas and power sectors, secure liquefied natural gas (LNG) supply, and improve the finances of energy importers to curb the energy crisis. In the long run, South Korea is looking to expand nuclear power deployment to overtake coal as the main source of electricity, targeting energy security and climate goals at the same time.