Energy

South Korea’s Solar Power Plan Is Backsliding — Literally, Down A Mountain Side

REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier

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Tim Pearce Energy Reporter
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South Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MTIE) will inspect solar panel plants around the country after the installations brought on a spate of landslides, MTIE announced Thursday.

The Korea Forest Service and nearly 30,000 solar panel operators will help with the inspection. Solar energy, a growing investment in South Korea, has caused a number of environmental problems while being a relatively powerful source, The Korea Times reported.

“Based on the inspection, the government will prepare stronger safety measures on solar power plants,” the ministry said in a statement, according to The Korea Times.

South Korea has subsidized the construction of 3,000 solar power plants across the country with 600 of those being installed on mountains. The installation sites are cleared of trees and other growth, leaving the soil open and vulnerable to rain and runoff. The infrastructure has triggered multiple landslides.

“When you build solar panels on mountains, farmland, or above reservoirs, the ecosystem there will inevitably be destroyed. When considering the manufacturing process of solar panels, it is not environmentally friendly at all,” Sogang University professor Lee Duck-hwan told The Korean Times.

Solar panels are the source of environmental problems in other parts of Asia. China’s aging solar infrastructure is a slow-ticking, environmental time bomb as the country continues to discard solar panels without any plans to recycle them. (RELATED: Old Solar Panels Causing An Environmental Crisis In China)

“It will explode with full force in two or three decades and wreck the environment, if the estimate is correct,” Tian Min, the general manager of a Chinese recycling company, told The South China Morning Post in July 2017. “This is a huge amount of waste and they are not easy to recycle.”

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