While some political partisans may like to argue that the decline of coal-fired power plants seen over recent times in the US has been the result of cronyism in support of the renewables industry, the fact is that coal-fired power plants simply can’t compete with renewable or gas-fired ones. Also important, particularly with this story, is that coal-fired power plants are responsible for a significant portion of total air pollution in many regions.
With this in mind, the recent news that the government of South Korea will be halting operations at 8 of its oldest coal-fired power plants in June in a bid to reduce the country’s worsening air pollution problems shouldn’t be surprising.
Reuters provides more: “New President Moon Jae-in earlier this month announced plans to temporarily shut operations at 10 coal-fired plants that are more than 30 years old and to bring forward their permanent closure to within his presidency which ends in May 2022.
“The energy ministry said in a statement that 8 of the 10 older coal-fired plants will be temporarily shut down from June 1 for one month, while the other 2 will remain operational to ensure stable power supply. From next year, the plants will be regularly shut down for four months over spring, and operations will be permanently suspended by 2022, three years earlier than previously planned.”
So, they are relatively ambitious — but still realistic — goals then. As it stands, coal-fired power plants provide South Korea with around 40% of its electricity, through 59 coal-fired power plants. The 10 old plants discussed above provide around 10.6% of total installed coal-fired power plant capacity (3.3 GW).
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