Role of energy and water in development
President Park Chung-hee was the first Korean president who saw the symbiotic relationship among economic development, energy, and science and technology, thus creating the Korean Institute of Science and Technology.
Korea’s nuclear power industry grew from its own proprietary technology as it did not benefit from the technology or knowhow of any of the advanced nations in the 1970s and the 1980s.
Under the circumstances, the government devised a ten-year nuclear development plan which aimed at self-independence of nuclear power.
To date, it has been successful, achieving 95 percent self-independence, and will achieve full sufficiency by 2012.
Seoul’s governmental role in constructing and operating nuclear power plants has been necessary.
Its role to make nuclear power competitive in the global market is admirable. Its future role should evolve into a regulatory one, permitting market forces to run the electric utility industry allowing for growth to be derived from supply and demand dynamics.
Multi-purpose dams: basic foundation of Korea’s lifeline and economic development
Multi-purpose dams have provided many goods and benefits to Korea, but maintenances of such dams require constant attention and care from the dam managers, KOWACO, citizens, farmers, businessmen and women and environmentalists.
For future needs, all dams should be renewed and remodeled to reserve more water and to control more severe floods, while generating more hydro-electric power, even if it is not comparable to nuclear power generation.
Future dam renewal and remodeling work requires environmentally friendly methods, including incorporating the fish swim path. The Hoover Dam in the United States has converted the arid American West into a livable and prosperous region.
The dam is a symbol of the miraculous scientific and engineering public work project designed to overcome the Great Depression in the 1930s. Korean multi-purpose dams are comparable to the Hoover Dam in the sense that they have launched the nation’s economic development with wonderful civil engineering projects in the 1960s and the 1970s.
Korea’s water resource management should be an integrated river basin management modeled after the Colorado River Basin Commission and the Delaware River Basin Commission, each making its own decisions for the amounts of water each state can withdraw from the river every year.
For example, the Han River Commission should have the authority to preserve the water quality of the river and decide the amount of water each province can take from the river for citizens’ drinking, farming and industrial water.
It should be responsible for the river basin’s flooding and dry seasons, and water distribution.
The central government’s role can be reduced to a basic survey of the rivers in the nation. KOWACO’s multi-purpose dams can be managed under or with the Commission.
The nation presents, expects and requires different roles from the government in different periods of development.
However, the presidential leadership and the bureaucrat’s role are always important to the nation’s well-being, beyond a sound monetary and tax policy.
Idealistic environmentalists have been critical to build nuclear power plants and dams, because the former is dangerous, and the latter denies nature. Environmentalists’ dreams cannot help Korea or any other nation on Earth.
Korea is the world’s sixth largest nuclear power producer and the second largest in Asia. Nuclear power in the country supplies 45 percent of electricity production.
This is likely to increase with the advancement of the existing technology (advanced reactors, including a small modular reactor, a liquid-metal fast transmutation reactor and a high-temperate hydrogenation design). Nuclear power can be a large export industry for Seoul.
Conflict resolution is an urgent task between the government and the environmental interest groups who do not want to endorse the expansion of nuclear power and dams. I propose a win-win policy or strategy here.
Developing a win-win policy is very desirable at the present time. Win-win is called super-optimizing or doing better than the previous best of all major groups. There are basically five major steps to win-win policy analysis:
1. What are the major goals of environmentalists, or other major groups who are disputing what policy should be adopted for a given policy problem?
2. What are the major alternatives for these groups in dealing with the policy problem?
3. What are the relations between each major alternative and each major goal?
4. What new alternative is there that might be capable of (a) achieving the environmental goals even better than the environmental alternative, and (b) achieving the developmental goals even better than the developmental alternative?
5. Is the proposed win-win alternative capable of overcoming the various hurdles ― political, administrative, technological, legal, psychological and economic ― that frequently exist?
A win-win policy can be possible on available resources both sides can use and scientific minds of negotiators on both sides. At the present time, Korea is unfortunate in lacking available resources and scientific minds.