Government plans 18 thermal plants

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Government plans 18 thermal plants

Korea will build as many as 18 thermal power plants by 2027 while also significantly expanding the generation capacity of clean, renewable power sources, such as solar and wind farms, the government said yesterday.

The move comes as the country’s electricity consumption is expected to grow by an annual average of 2.2 percent, from 482.5 billion kilowatt-hours this year to 655.3 billion kilowatt-hours by 2027.

The country’s peak power demand is expected to grow at a faster rate of 2.4 percent per year from 79.7 million kilowatts in 2013 to over 110 million kilowatts in 2027, according to the Ministry of Knowledge Economy.

The government sets a 15-year power supply plan in place every two years. The latest is the sixth of its kind.

Under the new plan, the government seeks to increase the total generation capacity of clean, renewable sources to 12 percent of total consumption in 2027, compared with only 7 percent in 2025 under the fifth power supply plan announced two years earlier.

An additional 15.8 million kilowatts of electricity will come from the 18 new power plants in the plan approved Friday.

To secure enough supplies, the government has given out licenses to public and private companies to build 12 new thermal power plants using coal and six using natural gas.

Plans for new nuclear power plants, on the other hand, have been suspended.

“Considering the people’s worsened sentiment toward nuclear power plants following the accident at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant (in March 2011), the government decided to withhold any decision on new nuclear power plants that were earlier set to be completed between 2025 and 2027,” the ministry said.

The country earlier sought to build four new reactors by 2027. Without the four new reactors, the country’s power reserve rate would dip from 22 percent in 2024 to 16.5 percent in 2027, the ministry said.

The power reserve rate is a crucial indicator of stability in power supply with a reserve rate of below 4 percent of total generation capacity considered dangerous. In 2012, the country’s average power reserve rate stood just above the dangerous level at 4.2 percent, forcing the government to issue numerous power shortage warnings during peak seasons in summer and winter.

The ministry said dangers of a possible nationwide blackout will be greatly reduced next year when the power reserve rate is expected to reach 16.3 percent with over 14 million kilowatt-hours added to the country’s total generation capacity.

Still, the government said it will work to limit the growth of consumption, which will include rate hikes.

“The government will reform the rate system and also introduce a rate system that links the cost to price that will allow it to quickly reflect any changes in the global energy price,” the ministry said. Yonhap
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