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S. Korea sets aside W9.4tr for tech independence, green energy

The Industry Ministry said Wednesday it has set aside around 9.4 trillion won ($7.8 billion) in its budget for 2020, up 23 percent from this year, to focus on technology independence from Japan and the expansion of renewable energy.

The budget plan for the ministry was finalized through a resolution of the National Assembly on Tuesday.

“In response to Japan’s export controls, the budget for supporting the materials and parts equipment has increased significantly from 669 billion won this year to 1.2 trillion won,” said Lee Seung-ryeol, chief of the ministry’s planning and budget division.

The twofold increase in the budget for technology development comes amid ongoing trade disputes between Korea and Japan in the wake of the latter’s export controls of high-tech materials in July. 

A total of 21 projects relevant to technology development for materials, parts and equipment will see an increase in funds next year.

The Industry Ministry’s budget also focuses on support for promising industries, such as non-memory chips, bio-health, future mobility, robots and hydrogen energy, which are the core future growth engines of the nation’s economy, the ministry said.

The budget to support non-memory chips will rise from 46 billion won to 109 billion won and the fund to back bio-health is set to increase from 86 billion won to 153 billion won. The support fund for future mobility and robots will rise from 144 billion won and 99 billion won to 222 billion won and 126 billion won, respectively. The budget for hydrogen energy will also increase from 53 billion won to 94 billion won next year.

The ministry also set aside 1.2 trillion won for the expansion of renewable energy, up from 1.13 trillion won this year, to support the smooth transition of energy conversion.

The increased fund allocation is part of the Moon Jae-in administration’s “Renewable Energy 3020” policy announced in December 2017, aiming to increase renewable energy’s share of generation capacity to 20 percent from the current 7 percent by 2030, in response to concerns about life-threatening air pollution and demand for cleaner and safer energy.

Investment in energy safety and welfare will also increase to 206 billion won and 565 billion won, respectively, from 173 billion won and 183 billion won, to expand energy vouchers and on-site inspections of general-purpose electric facilities. 

By Shin Ji-hye (