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S. Korea planning massive offshore wind farm project
By Byun Duk-kun
SEOUL, Sept. 19 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will soon launch a 9 trillion won (US$7.8 billion) project to build the country's largest offshore wind power complex, government officials said Sunday.

   The government has said it will build a "proving area" in the Yellow Sea by 2012 to test some 20 turbines from various manufacturers, but this is the first time the government's follow-up steps have been confirmed.

   Following the completion of the first-stage construction of 20 test turbines in 2013, instead of 2012, the government will build an "experimental complex" with 200 five-megawatt turbines, according to officials from the Ministry of Knowledge Economy.

   By 2019, the country will have 1,000 wind turbines out in the sea, some 30 kilometers off the coast of southwestern South and North Jeolla provinces, creating up to 5 gigawatts of electricity per hour, equivalent to the amount of electricity generated by four nuclear reactors, the officials said.

   "The site was picked for its shallow water, which makes the construction much easier and also cuts the cost significantly," a ministry official told Yonhap News Agency, asking not to be identified.

   The government will finalize plans for the project before the end of next month, he added.

   The largest wind power project in the country's history comes as Seoul is struggling to increase its use of new, renewable energy that also includes nuclear and solar energy.

   "The government is devising a long-term plan to lower the country's dependence on fossil fuels to about one-third of all its energy needs by 2030," another official from the economy ministry said, noting fossil fuels currently make up about half of all energy sources.

   Under the proposed plan, the country will build 11 new nuclear reactors by 2030, in addition to eight reactors currently under construction and 20 reactors in operation.

   "This will increase the proportion of nuclear energy from the current 14 percent to about 28 percent of all energy supplies," the official said.

   The plan also calls for the country to increase its use of renewable energy to over 20 percent by the target year.