South Koreans ranked fifth in per capita energy consumption among member states of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in 2016, data released on Monday showed.
Individual South Koreans consumed an average of 5.6 TOE (ton of oil equivalent) during that year. The figure places them after the people of Norway (9.2 TOE), Canada (9.1), the United States (7.1) and Australia (5.7).
South Koreans ranked even higher at No. 2 in terms of their per capita consumption of coal, which reached 1.6 TOE. South Korea followed behind Australia's 1.8, according to the figures provided by Statistics Korea and the local energy industry.
The latest measurement on coal consumption marks a 45.5 percent increase from 1.1 TOE 10 years ago, indicating that South Korea is going opposite the general trend among OECD members of curtailing use of coal as an energy source.
Energy industry officials say South Korea continues to rely heavily on coal for power generation. In 2016, South Korea used 77.61 million tons of free-burning coal to produce energy, accounting for 65 percent of the total coal consumed for the year.
Officials also point to low electricity prices compared to OECD states. South Korea's cost of household electricity is $119 per megawatt-hour, lower than the OECD average of $184.60. Such low prices encourage excessive use of power, which creates greater need for cheaper coal to produce electricity, they say.
"We need to overhaul the system of using low-cost energy sources first and make electricity prices more realistic in order to end such a negative cycle," an official said. (Yonhap)