Seoul targets power plants to battle fine dust

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Seoul targets power plants to battle fine dust

Korea has formed a task force to reduce fine dust from old coal-fired thermal power plants as the country moves to cope with rising air pollution, the energy ministry said Monday.

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said the team composed of officials from state-utility firms and related agencies held a meeting to discuss ways to minimize fine dust and other pollutants from fossil-fuel powered plants while maintaining a stable power supply for the country.

State-run utility firms will suspend the operation of five coal power plants aged over 30 years from March through June, when the skies of Seoul and other major cities are intermittently covered with a thick layer of fine dust and smog.

The government will analyze the impact of the temporary suspensions on air quality and prepare emergency contingencies to ensure a stable level of power supply in case of unexpected surges in demand or unexpected breakdowns of other plants.

The five power plants produce a combined 2.3 gigawatts of electricity, about two percent of the nation’s total power generation, it noted.

The suspension of power production is part of the Moon Jae-in administration’s broader energy plan which seeks to reduce the country’s dependence on coal and nuclear power and transition to renewable energy sources.

Under the plan, the government won’t authorize new licenses for coal power plants and will consult with utilities to turn their coal-fired power generation projects to natural liquefied gas stations.

Existing coal power plants will be required to cut carbon dioxide emissions 40 percent by 2022 and 58 percent by 2030 to meet the national emissions reduction goal.

In 2016, South Korea set a national target under the Paris climate agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 37 percent from business-as-usual levels by 2030.

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