President Moon Jae-in of South Korea has ordered a temporary shutdown of aged coal-fired power plants in a move to fight air pollution. Under the order, eight power plants over 30 years old will be closed for 30 days, starting from 1 June.
Coal burning is a key source of fine dust emission, which is increasingly becoming a health hazard in the country.
Currently, there are 10 such coal-fired power plants in the country, but two have been excluded from the temporary shutdown due to a possible shortage of power supplies in the areas in which they are located. However, from next year, all 10 aged coal-fired power plants will be ordered to close for four months from March each year.
A spokesman for the President said: “The President plans to permanently close all 10 aged power plants within his term, and do it as soon as possible.”
Kim Su-hyun, Chief Presidential Secretary for Social Affairs, said the shutdown may help reduce the output of fine particulate matter by up to 2 per cent, noting that there were 59 coal-fired power plants said to account for about 14 per cent of all fine dust emissions. The Chief Secretary said the temporary shutdown will have little or no impact on the country’s overall power supply, noting that they could easily be replaced by LNG power plants, mostly owned by private power suppliers.
The Presidential Office noted that the 10 power plants had a combined capacity of 3.3 GW in 2015, accounting for 3.4 per cent of total capacity in the same year, according to KEPCO.