Old coal plant shutdown ordered temporarily

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Old coal plant shutdown ordered temporarily

Four aging coal-fired power plants will be shut down temporarily during the spring to curb fine-dust emissions, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said Thursday.

The power plants - all in operation for more than 30 years - are located in Goseong, South Gyeongsang, and Boryeong, South Chungcheong.

The shutdowns will begin this month and last for four months. The measures are expected to reduce PM 2.5 fine-dust particle emissions by 1,174 tons, or 5.1 percent of the 2018 fine-dust emissions from coal plants.

Two additional coal plants that have been in operation for over 30 years, both in Yeosu, South Jeolla, will be exempt from the government measures to maintain the stability of the electricity supply in the region.

All six aged plants are scheduled for decommissioning by 2022.

The ministry explained that demand for electricity is low during the four-month window and that the temporary shutdown is not expected to have a significant impact on the electricity supply. It said it will keep the plants on standby in order to respond to emergency situations. The ministry will also increase the number of coal and oil power plants on which it will set an 80 percent capacity limit from the current 36 to 47.

The temporary shutdown announcement comes as special fine-dust measures were instituted in the capital metropolitan region. An alternate-day driving ban was in effect on Thursday for vehicles driven by public officials or state organization employees.

Amid government efforts to combat fine dust, emissions from coal plants fell from 30,679 tons in 2016 to 22,869 tons last year. Korea is heavily dependent on coal-fired plants. In the fourth quarter of 2018, coal accounted for 40.5 percent of total energy production.

BY CHAE YUN-HWAN [chae.yunhwan@joongang.co.kr]
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