Sunday, February 3, 2008

Energy Crunch Hits S. Korea

The energy crisis, in the form of high prices, is definitely affecting Korea. Here's a story from last fall that is having its impact now. Even worse, S. Korea has already hit Peak Coal. (Note: I currently reside in Korea.)

Hope some of you are waking up to not only Peak Oil, but Peak Whole Bunches of Stuff.

Briquettes Make Pricier Comeback
By Jane Han
Staff Reporter

In this day of new energy sources and high technology, holed briquettes, or "yeontan," have been quickly fading into people's memories as a fuel of the past. But for the energy-poor households, the shortage of these coal blocks is emerging as a current worry ahead of winter.

...local briquette consumption doubled over the past three years, pushed by high oil prices and the sluggish economy.

Households, restaurants, offices and even large greenhouses are beginning to turn back the clock, as more and more, again, rely on charcoal for heat.

But... the price of the once-cheapest form of energy has risen steadily as supply is falling short of growing demand.

...briquette supply was halved to below 4 million tons this year from around 8 million tons in 2004, all the while as demand continues to rise.

...production cut in anthracite, falling from about 3.3 million tons in 2002 to less than to 2.8 million tons last year, with consumption during the same period jumping from 1.1 million tons to 2.3 million.

With production declining, the stronger demand has been chipping away at stocks _ up to a point where experts predict that the domestic coal supply will bottom out in about two to three years.

..."From 400 won to 500 won, we'll soon see each block priced at 1,000 won.

The government has distributed briquettes at relatively low costs by supporting more than 50 percent of the price. Some 255.6 billion won was used for subsidies last year alone, but because of the soaring demand and financial burden, the government announced in May that the state's support will be phased out by 2011.

...Officials estimate that about 1.2 million families, or about 8 percent of the nation's total households, suffer from relatively high energy costs, including electricity and gas rates.

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