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S Korea unveils power mix plan for 2030 focused on renewables, LNG

Seoul — South Korea aims to boost the portion of LNG in its electricity generation mix to 18.8% in 2030 from an estimated 16.9% this year as part of efforts to reduce its heavy reliance on coal and nuclear, the energy ministry said Thursday.

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In its long-term Basic Blueprint for Power Supply and Demand, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said renewable sources would account for up to 20% of the power mix in 2030, up from an estimated 6.7% in 2017, by increasing investment in solar and wind power plants.

In contrast, coal's share in the power mix is slated to fall to 36.1% in 2030 from 45.3% in 2017, and nuclear to fall to 23.9% from 30.3% over the same period, according to the blueprint, which outlines the country's energy road map for 2017-2031.

The new plan puts more emphasis on issues related to the environment and safety, moving away from the stable supply and economic efficiency focus that the country has long given top priority, which has resulted in an over-reliance on coal and nuclear generation, the ministry said in a statement.



"When building new power plants, the government will reduce its heavy reliance on large nuclear power and coal plants and put higher priority on renewables and gas plants," the ministry said.

In terms of power generation capacity designed to meet peak demand, LNG will account for 38.6% in 2030, up from 34.7% in 2017, which will enable natural gas-fired power plants to be ready to raise operating rates in response to power supply shortages.

However, actual power production from gas is unlikely to reach 30% because the country's electricity reserves are expected to remain high due to sluggish demand and the government's push to cut consumption, a ministry official said.

The blueprint revised down the country's forecast of electricity demand to 100.5 GW in 2030 from the previous outlook of 113.4 GW, citing slowing economic growth.

South Korea will have ample electricity reserves of over 22% until 2030 to avoid any supply shortages due to disruption or malfunction at power plants, and the government's power policy will focus more on curbing demand than expanding supply, the official said.


REDUCE RELIANCE ON COAL


The new power mix plan is part of new President Moon Jae-In's efforts to lower the country's heavy reliance on coal and nuclear in electricity generation by raising power production from renewables and LNG.

Moon, who took office in May, has pushed to boost LNG's share of power production to around 37% by 2030 and initially sought to convert nine coal-fired power plants under construction to gas-fired ones.

But the government has since stepped back in the face of protests from the private utilities building the plants, with only one of the nine set to be converted to natural gas, according to energy minister Paik Un-gyu.

Instead, the government will impose higher taxes and tough environmental regulations on coal as part of efforts to prompt power generators to switch to natural gas, Paik told a forum last Friday.

The government will hike consumption taxes on coal to Won 36 ($0.03)/kg from next April from Won 30/kg currently and is mulling further tax adjustments to curb coal demand, he said.

--Charles Lee, newsdesk@spglobal.com
--Edited by Wendy Wells, wendy.wells@spglobal.com