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South Korea looks to turbocharge renewable power

State utilities will nearly triple solar, wind capacity

SEOUL -- Six South Korean state-backed utilities plan to spend 45 trillion won ($39.9 billion) by 2035 to dramatically expand the role of renewable power sources and help meet the government's energy goals.

The power producers intend to add 33 gigawatts of capacity using such sources as solar and wind by that year, according to investment plans compiled by Park Jeung, a ruling party lawmaker on the National Assembly's trade, industry and energy committee. This amount is nearly twice the country's current renewable energy capacity. One of the six companies, Korea South-East Power -- part of the Korea Electric Power Corp. group -- plans to add 5.7 gigawatts at a cost of around 6.9 trillion won.

These investments would mark a major step toward President Moon Jae-in's goal of having renewables account for 20% of South Korea's energy by 2030. Reaching that goal is thought to require at least 45 gigawatts more of renewable capacity than exists now.

Separately, Kepco affiliate Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power, another of the six, will resume construction of two nuclear reactors at its Shin-Kori plant in Ulsan, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said Tuesday, following a cabinet decision to that effect. The units are already 30% complete.

The Moon administration's broader energy strategy, however, aims to phase out nuclear power over time. This will involve scrapping plans for six new reactors and gradually shutting down 14 aging reactors by 2038, according to the ministry. Another aging unit is to be taken out of service in the near future.

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