Emergy evaluation perspective of a multipurpose dam proposal in Korea

Daeseok Kang, Seok Soon Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


The 'emergy' concept was used to evaluate the economy of Korea and the contributions of a multipurpose dam proposal to the real wealth of the Korean economy. Emergy is defined as the available energy of one kind previously used up directly and indirectly to make a product or service. The indices for Korea calculated from the emergy evaluation were close to those of developed countries. Even though its monetary balance of payments was negative in 1997, the economy of Korea showed positive balance in trade when exports and imports were expressed in emergy. The emergy evaluation showed that the Korean economy places a large stress on its environment. Water supply and generation of electricity were the most important contributions of the proposed dam in terms of emergy; 46.5 and 45.1% of the total benefit, respectively. Flood control contributed 8.4% of the total benefit. Major costs associated with the proposed dam were from sediments (33.2% of the total cost), construction services (22.8%), and social disruption of the region (21.6%). In terms of emergy, the ratio of benefits to costs of the proposed dam was 2.78 if sediments are not included, and 1.86 if sediments are included, which result in more benefits than costs in both cases. The benefit to cost ratio of the dam was larger than that of the current system (1.42) without the dam whether sediments are included in the total cost or not. The environmental stress of the proposed dam was considerably lower than that of the Korean economy, but the dam might increase stress on local environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)293-306
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 2002

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The study presented herein was partially supported by Korea Water Resources Corporation (KOWACO). Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of KOWACO. The authors would like to appreciate anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments and criticisms.


  • Benefit
  • Cost
  • Emergy
  • Multipurpose dam


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