SEOUL - SOUTH Korea said on Tuesday it would build a massive offshore wind farm off the west coast by 2019 to develop new sources of renewable energy and help wind turbine exporters.

Under the 9.2 trillion won (S$10.5 billion) project, companies such as Hyundai Heavy Industries and Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering plan to build 500 turbines, the Knowledge Economy Ministry said in a statement.

The wind farm, to be built near the south-western counties of Buan and Yeonggwang, will generate about 2,500 megawatts of electricity, it said.

The government will coordinate the project and provide 29 billion won, while private investors will finance the rest.

Major South Korean shipbuilders and heavy machinery makers such as Samsung Heavy Industries and STX Heavy Industries are scrambling to enter the lucrative global wind power market.

Asia's fourth largest economy imports 97 per cent of its energy needs from overseas and has moved to cut dependence on fossil fuels and diversify energy sources.

Seoul last month unveiled a five-year plan to spend US$36 billion (S$46 billion) developing renewable energy as its next economic growth engine, with a goal to become one of the world's five top players in the sector.

SKorea to build wind farm