April 19, 2019 / 3:09 AM / 6 months ago

South Korea steps up shift to cleaner energy, sets long-term renewable power targets

Transmission towers carrying solar and thermoelectric power from the Korea South East Power Co. (KOSEP) plant are seen in Ansan, about 80 km (50 miles) west of Seoul, July 21, 2011. REUTERS/Jo Yong-Hak

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea plans to boost the share of its energy output generated from renewable sources to as much as 35 percent by 2040, a draft revision to government policy showed on Friday, over four times the current amount.

Asia’s fourth-largest economy has been pushing to shed its heavy reliance on coal and nuclear power, with the latest target coming on top of a 2017 plan to increase the amount of renewables in its energy mix to 20 percent by 2030.

Renewable power currently makes up around 8 percent of South Korea’s energy production.

“We have decided to increase the share of renewable power to between 30 percent and 35 percent by 2040 to move toward cleaner and safer energy based on an advisory group’s recommendation,” Park Jae-young, director of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, told a public hearing in Seoul.

A South Korean advisory group said in November that the government should plan to expand the share of renewable power generation in the country’s generating mix between 25 percent and 40 percent by 2040 to keep up with global trends.

The role of coal power is expected to be cut further, while gas power generation will be expanded, Park added.

The ministry will also keep its plan to stop extending the lifespans of aged nuclear power plants.

Research firm Wood Mackenzie said in late March that South Korea was likely to just miss its 2030 renewable energy target, although its renewables capacity was expected to triple from 2019.

The energy ministry aims to finalize its energy policy revision after taking into account suggestions raised at Friday’s public hearing.

Reporting by Jane Chung; Editing by Joseph Radford

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