South Korea has permanently shut its two oldest coal-fired power plants, which will be replaced by new LNG-based ones, in line with President Moon Jae-in's push to reduce the country's reliance on coal in electricity generation and address worsening air pollution, the energy ministry said Jan. 3
Honam Coal Power Plant No. 1 and No. 2, each with a capacity of 250 MW, have stopped operation since Jan. 1, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy. The two coal power plants had operated for the past 48 years since they were built in 1973.
"The site of the Honam-1 and -2 will be transformed into an environment-friendly power complex with two LNG-fired power plants and a hydrogen fuel cell power plant," a ministry official said.
With the closure of Honam-1 and -2, President Moon met his promise to shut down 10 aging coal-fired power plants before his five-year term ends in May 2022, the ministry said.
Under the anti-coal drive by President Moon, who took office in May 2017, a total of 10 coal-fired power plants have been retired -- Seocheon-1, and -2, each with 200 MW, Yeongdong-1, and -2 with 125 MW and 200 MW, respectively, Boryeong-1 and -2 each with 500 MW, and Samcheonpo-1 and -2, each with 560 MW as well as Honam-1 and -2.
"The government will press ahead with the drive to reduce coal-based power production," the official said.
The country had closed 8 to 16 coal-fired power plants for three months since Dec. 1, out of 53 in total currently, to help reduce air pollution, which could boost LNG demand.
"Under its longer term roadmap, South Korea plans to get 24 aging coal-fired power plants fully retired by 2034 as part of efforts to phase out coal consumption for electricity generation by 2050," the official said.
Coal-fired power plants currently account for about 40% of South Korea's electricity mix, and LNG-fired power plants are responsible for around 25%, while nuclear reactors satisfy around 30% of demand. The remaining come renewables.
Meanwhile, the Environment Ministry officially announced that South Korea emitted a total 701.3 million mt of greenhouse gas in 2019.
"The figure, confirmed by the Greenhouse Gas Inventory and Research Center, represents a 3.5% decline from the 2018 tally thanks partly to the government's push to curb coal-based power production," the ministry said.
The decrease came largely from a reduction in power plant emissions from 268.5 million mt to 248.7 million mt, while road transportation and non-metal emissions increased 2.75 million mt and 1.13 million mt, respectively.