S.Korea group says govt should expand renewable power to 40 percent by 2040

SEOUL (Reuters) - A South Korean advisory group said the government should plan to increase the nation's share of renewable power generation in its generating mix to as much as 40 percent by 2040 to keep abreast with global trends and lower its fuel import dependency.

South Korea, Asia's fourth-largest economy, is seeking a shift to cleaner and safer energy resources to reflect growing calls for clean air and concerns over atomic energy safety.

The country's energy ministry last year released its 15-year power supply plan through 2030, with an aim to boost the renewable energy share for power to 20 percent by 2030, while scaling back dependence on coal and nuclear power.

The ministry is set to release its long-term energy plan this year and will finalise the plan for 2019-2040 in December, based on the recommendation of the advisory group made up of experts and representatives from the industry.

The group said the government should plan to increase the share of renewable power generation to between 25 percent and 40 percent by 2040, from an estimated 7.6 percent as of 2017, according to a report release on Wednesday.

"Should the share of renewable power generation reach 20 percent by 2030, the country's energy import dependency is expected to fall to 90.2 percent, from 94.2 percent in 2017," the report said.

The report did not provide a breakdown of a suggested energy mix by 2040. The group did recommend the government adjust fuel taxes to boost the use of cleaner fuels.

The government announced a plan in July this year to raise taxes on thermal coal, while lowering levies on liquefied natural gas (LNG) to promote the use of cleaner fuels for power generation.

South Korea, which imports almost all of its energy via shipments of coal, natural gas and crude oil, currently generates over 70 percent of the country's electricity using coal and nuclear reactors.

(Reporting By Jane Chung; Editing by Tom Hogue)