October 04, 2018 13:54
The government is under suspicion of pressuring banks to provide loans to finance solar farms in support of President Moon Jae-in's nuclear-free policy. The state-run Korea Credit Guarantee Fund backs 90 percent of the loans, but the remaining 10 percent has apparently been given to recipients who do not meet credit standards.
The Ministry of Economy and Finance instructed NH Nonghyup and Shinhan banks to extend the loans without screening, and the land to set up the solar panels is apparently being provided by the Korea Rural Community Corporation. The government is effectively offering perks to any Tom, Dick and Harry who is willing to build solar energy farms, and the costs will inevitably be shouldered by the taxpayer.
Rumors are rampant that the solar farm projects are being led by environmental activists with strong ties to the government. There are even rumors that the government tried to make it possible for a cooperative of former environmental activists to take part in a solar project to be set up on the rooftops of public schools. The schools favored solar panels manufactured by state power monopoly KEPCO, but the government apparently intervened and tried to push them into buying panels from the cooperative instead.
Many members of the cooperative are the very former environmental activists who pushed for the nuclear fadeout. Some have received millions of dollars in government subsidies since taking part in a government project to build mini power stations. The government has vowed to scrap plans for new nuclear power plants and instead spend W100 trillion on solar and wind power by 2030 (US$1=W1,122). This has led to a feeding frenzy.
There has been an explosive growth in the number of solar farms being built on lakes, school rooftops and mountainsides. But in Korean weather, the utilization of solar panels stands at only 14 percent, so they are an extremely limited source of energy. They are also an eyesore until the technology improves. Yet the government gave up supporting Korea's nuclear industry, which boasts world-leading technology and was a fantastic source of revenue, to back solar energy with no holds barred. At this rate the potential for corruption is practically unlimited.
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