Relocation of power generation workers to substations? There is no evidence, no explanation, no research.

▲ File photo Reporter Jeong Ki-hoon

It turned out that the measures for industrial transformation related to power generation workers announced by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy at the end of last month were prepared without clear evidence. Whether the measures are realistic or not is expected to be known only after the 2050 Carbon Neutrality Committee conducts ‘Employment Status Impact Assessment’ after the enforcement of the Basic Act on Carbon Neutrality and Green Growth to respond to the climate crisis in March of this year. The Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy, which is in charge of the electric power industry, is planning to inject a huge amount of tax of 78 trillion won to related industries in accordance with the ambiguous labor conversion policy implementation plan.

Renewable energy with high volatility, including power generation, requires investment in facilities
Insufficient private and public ‘working hours research according to energy transition’

Combining the coverage of on the 10th, in the policy direction for the abolition and reduction of coal power generation announced by the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy at the end of last month, the ‘relocation plan for coal-fired power generation workers’ transmission/distribution construction/maintenance field’, which was included as a measure for workers’ industrial transformation, was It appears that the announcement was made without any demand analysis. Related research is almost nonexistent even at the private level. The Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy mentioned the conversion of carbon-free alternative power plants such as liquefied natural gas (LNG), hydrogen, and ammonia as a relocation target along with transmission and distribution construction and maintenance, but this is also an early stage commercialization study of related energy. It means that even after dismantling 10 coal-fired power plants, they are unable to determine the direction of the deployment of 25,000 power generation workers, including regular and non-regular workers.

In fact, it is true that the expansion of transmission and distribution is necessary for carbon neutrality. Currently, there are 34,646 circuit kilometers (C-km) of power transmission facilities in Korea and 890 substation facilities. Renewable energy is a variable energy with a large drop in power generation depending on the situation, and in order to accept it and deliver it to the necessary places, investment in facilities such as transmission and distribution facilities, substations, and storage is required.

However, it is difficult to ascertain how much employment inducing effect this field will have. An official from a private research institute in the field of electricity and power said, “It will become more important in the future, but so far, there has been no study on the labor market in the transmission and distribution fields as well as the labor demand and supply in the process of industrial transformation. It will not be left to research institutes, is it?” he said.

However, rarely published related studies suggest different analyses. Looking at the employment impact assessment for fostering new energy industries conducted by the government in 2017, the researchers predicted that “as interest and demand for new energy industries increase, the demand for related jobs is also expected to increase, which will greatly contribute to job creation.” On the other hand, the Korea Employment Information Service released a report on the development trend of the new and renewable energy industry last year and the employment market analysis report, “From the peak of 2015, the number of people employed in the manufacturing sector in the new and renewable energy industry has decreased, and the number of people employed in fuel cells and bioenergy has increased every year. did,” he explained. However, both reports did not microscopically analyze the maintenance and construction personnel related to transmission and distribution.

Is it possible to create a carbon-neutral master plan that overturns decision-making in the relevant ministries?

It is difficult to estimate the time when such evidence will become visible. This is because the Carbon Neutrality Committee started discussing the basic plan after March, after the law was enacted. Previously, each government department had announced that it would communicate about each department’s plans, but it is only at the level of policy coordination. An official from the Carbon Neutrality Committee said, “(For the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy’s plan) is being consulted between ministries and will be included in the basic plan with consistency in the future.”

Given this situation, the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy is concerned about the negligence of policies. There is concern that if the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy makes all important decisions before collecting opinions in the employment status impact assessment or master plan establishment process, there will be virtually no room for discussion.

For this reason, the labor community has placed the priority on securing governance. Nam Tae-seop, head of the policy planning department of the Public Labor Federation, said, “It is difficult to respond because it is ambiguous whether the plan of the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy refers to all power generation workers or the direction for some fields. It is an important task.”

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