SEOUL, Feb. 20 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's renewable energy industry is expected to lag behind global peers in 2013, industry data showed Wednesday, mainly due to the lack of government support.
The combined sales of local renewable energy firms came to 7.4 trillion won (US$6.9 billion) last year, down 7.86 percent from 8.1 trillion won tallied two years earlier, according to the data compiled by the state-run Export-Import Bank of Korea (Eximbank).
In contrast, the size of the global renewable energy market jumped 38 percent to reach $260.8 billion over the cited period. The number is anticipated to reach $271.3 billion this year, the data added.
Renewable energy refers to energy that comes from natural resources such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides and geothermal heat, which can be replenished by natural processes.
Market watchers said performances of local renewable energy firms are expected to remain stagnant down the road, largely due the weak support from the government despite Seoul's emphasis on "low carbon, green growth."
"The Chinese government, for example, provides full support to its renewable energy firms," said Kang Jung-hwa, a researcher at Eximbank. "In contrast, local companies cannot even receive sufficient financial aid."
While 15 major banks in China offered $332 billion in loans to their renewable energy firms, South Korean companies were only able to receive $2.54 billion from local banks.
"The government should also thoroughly enforce the renewable portfolio standard (RPS) system," said Shin Geun-ho, a researcher at IBK Investment & Securities Co. "Government support is vital in making infant energy firms stand on their own, just as the semiconductor industry."
The RPS policy, adopted in 2012, requires large-scale electricity providers produce a certain portion of power through renewable energy sources.
Since the first year of the presidency of Lee Myung-bak, South Korea has been pushing for the so-called green growth, which aims to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and promoting technologies that increase energy efficiency.
Renewable energy sources accounted for 5.8 percent of the global energy production in 2010, industry data showed. The figure is expected to reach 11.8 percent in 2020 and 17.7 percent in 2030 on the back of rising demand.
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