Key business indices for renewable energy, including investment and domestic demand, have backtracked over the past few years, data showed Monday, a challenge to the government policy to pursue non-nuclear power sources.
The data provided in a 2016 survey by the New Renewable Energy Center of the Korea Energy Management Corp. showed that six of the seven indices fell last year from the previous year. Investment in renewable energy, for instance, fell 13.6 percent to 688 billion won (US$625.73 million). Local demand dropped 17.3 percent to 4.11 trillion won, and the number of companies 14.4 percent to 405. Exports also shrank, down 13 percent to 3.54 trillion won, while the number of people employed in the industry decreased 10.9 percent to 14,412.
Sales lost 10.8 percent to 10.09 trillion won, according to the data.
The fall in investment was more alarming, dropping for the second consecutive year after a 8.5 percent decrease in 2015.
Overseas production was the only index among seven to gain, up 7.6 percent to 2.428 trillion won.
The Moon Jae-in administration declared it will gradually curtail nuclear-generated power and replace it with more environmentally safe sources, such as solar and wind power. It hopes to raise the proportion of renewable energy to 20 percent of power production by 2030.
Some industry specialists say the decrease in investment is due to price drops from technological advancements. Others argue South Korea's competitiveness has fallen behind China's, discouraging local companies from engaging in related business.
"Given the current government support, it is hard for companies to boldly increase investment in renewable energy," an industry official said. "If the government wants to induce private investment, it needs to provide more assistance."