Korea's green energy laws and methane hydrates

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This article proposes how Korea could integrate the energy source of methane hydrates into its Framework for Low Carbon, Green Growth, along with the coordinating New and Renewable Energy Act and the Energy Act.

Korea has an energy crisis and a climate change crisis. Korea is a highly industrialized country with massive energy needs. The vast majority of Korea’s energy supplies must be imported and are usually extracted by non-Korean companies. Korea is also one of the locations more dramatically affected by global climate change. Korea will face more significant changes in sea-level change, precipitation, and other environmental stresses compared to most other developed economies. Korea needs an energy solution that will also serve as a climate change solution; it needs a green energy solution. Methane hydrates could be a part of that solution.

Previously identified methane hydrates reserves could replace all of the current consumption of coal and crude oil. Methane hydrates burn with materially less green house gases than coal or crude oil, can be readily converted to zero-emission hydrogen fuel, and its extraction provides an opportunity to permanently sink and store green house gases. Furthermore, methane hydrate related technologies could reduce the costs and increase the safety of natural gas transportation, replacing expensive LNG options or enabling the development of previously commercially stranded natural gas resources.

The time of commercial methane hydrate production is arriving. Korea should make the effort to take the lead before other countries do. By delivering on the promise of methane hydrates, Korea could reduce its own carbon costs and also assist neighbors like China and India to reduce theirs. By coordinating with other nation-states with methane hydrate reserves, Korea can also better secure its own energy independence. Finally, if Korea takes a lead in bringing the relevant technologies to commercialization, then it will likely earn the lion’s share of energy-related revenues as crude oil and coal yield to the greater supplies of methane hydrates.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)591-623
Number of pages31
JournalJournal of Law and Policy Research (법과정책연구)
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2012


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