Asia Pacific / Science & Health

South Korea to close up to 15 coal-fired power plants over winter to limit pollution

Reuters

South Korea will idle up to a quarter of its coal-fired power plants between December and February to help limit air pollution, and the remaining plants should be enough to supply power over the winter, the country’s energy ministry said on Thursday.

The presidential committee recommended in September shutting down up to 14 coal plants between December and February and up to 27 in March, scaling up the country’s antipollution measures.

South Korea, Asia’s fourth-largest economy, has about 60 coal-fired power plants, generating 40 percent of the country’s electricity. But experts say burning coal has worsened air quality in the country.

The country’s energy ministry said in a news release that the remaining coal power plants will operate at no more than 80 percent capacity from December to February.

So far, South Korea has suspended operations of some aging coal-fired power plants from March to June and capped such plants’ operations at 80 percent when an air pollution advisory is issued.

The country’s winter power demand is expected to peak at around 88,600 megawatts (MW) in the fourth week of January, and to increase to 91,800 MW if there is an extreme cold snap, according to the ministry statement.

Electricity supply is expected to meet demand with a power surplus of above 11,350 MW from December through February, the ministry said.