South Korea May Spend $39 Billion on New Power Plants

South Korea may spend 44 trillion won ($39 billion) building nuclear, gas and coal-fired power plants by 2024 to meet rising energy demand and replace old facilities.

The country may construct 14 more nuclear reactors, 13 coal-fired plants and 19 that use liquefied natural gas by 2024, the Ministry of Knowledge Economy said in a statement today. The proposal is a part of a government power supply-and-demand plan that outlines investment for the next 15 years. The plan will be finalized by the end of this year.

South Korea, which imports almost all its oil, has been trying to cut reliance on crude and diversify energy sources after oil prices in New York climbed to a record $147.27 a barrel in 2008. The proposal is based on estimates that electricity consumption in the Asia’s fourth-largest economy will increase an average 1.9 percent annually through 2024.

Nuclear plants will provide 48.5 percent of power generation by 2024, up from an expected 32.7 percent next year, according to the ministry. The country will reduce reliance on oil-fired plants to 0.5 percent from 4 percent.

Under the proposal, renewable-energy sources may account for 8.9 percent of power generation, up from 1.8 percent, as the government is boosting investment in solar and wind power to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Increasing use of nuclear power and renewable energy will slow annual natural gas demand growth to 1.8 percent by 2024 from 5.6 percent between 2002 and 2009 and 17.3 percent between 1987 and 2002, state-run Korea Gas Corp. said in a separate report.

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