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S.Korea eyes lifting LNG, renewables capacity by a tenth in clean power drive
September 6, 2017 / 7:22 AM / in 3 months

S.Korea eyes lifting LNG, renewables capacity by a tenth in clean power drive

* Ministry paper sees 5-10 GW new installed capacity by 2030

* LNG, renewables to account for most of new capacity

* Plans highlight scale of Pres Moon’s clean energy target

By Jane Chung

SEOUL, Sept 6 (Reuters) - South Korea is lining up plans to lift its power production capacity by up to a tenth by 2030, mostly using liquefied natural gas (LNG) and renewable energy in an ambitious drive to cut decades of reliance on coal and nuclear plants.

A draft policy paper unveiled by Seoul’s energy ministry on Wednesday showed it hopes to meet rising demand in Asia’s fourth-largest economy by adding 5-10 gigawatts (GW) to its installed capacity base - about 4.7-9.5 percent of current capacity - mostly from LNG and renewables.

But the numbers highlight the challenge Seoul faces in meeting new President Moon Jae-in’s campaign promises. Moon wants to generate 20 percent of Korea’s power from renewables by 2030, up from 5 percent now: Even if renewables take up all the new capacity outlined on Wednesday, other steps may be needed to meet the radical goal.

“We are working on a plan to reduce nuclear and coal power generation gradually,” said Choi Woo-seok, director of the ministry’s electric power division, speaking at a public hearing in the capital. “But at the same time we are seeking to expand the share of renewables and LNG for power generation to keep abreast with global trends.”

The draft, which provided few numeric details, is the first step in the ministry’s plans to flesh out a new energy policy by the end of October and finalise it by the end of the year.

South Korea now produces nearly 40 percent of its electricity from coal, followed by nuclear at around 30 percent. The rest comes from LNG, with around 20 percent, oil and others 5 percent, and renewables the final 5 percent.

But President Moon won office in early May this year, running on a campaign that featured pledges to move away from coal and nuclear power to allay public concerns over safety and air pollution.

The ministry plans to close seven old coal-fired power plants by 2022, while banning the building new coal-fired and nuclear power plants, according to the draft.

The fate of two partially-completed nuclear reactors remains unclear. The government suspended construction of Shin Kori No.5 and Shin Kori No.6 reactors until it gathers public opinion by October whether they should be cancelled amid concerns over atomic safety.

Reporting by Jane Chung; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell

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