South Korea to reduce coal plant operations, targeting fine dust in winter

The operations of eight of the nation's 60 coal power plants will be halted this winter. PHOTO: AFP

SEOUL (REUTERS) - South Korea will reduce the operations of coal-fuelled power plants this winter to cut fine dust emissions, it said on Thursday (Nov 26), as it battles unhealthy air.

It is resuming a campaign kicked off last winter to rein in fine dust, a combination of domestic coal and automotive emissions as well as pollutants wafted in from neighbouring China and North Korea.

The operations of eight of the nation's 60 coal power plants will be halted during the season, an official at the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said, matching a step taken last year.

The rest of the plants will run at 80 per cent of capacity or less, depending on energy demand, the ministry added in a statement.

"Due to the reduction of coal power generation this winter, 2,289 tonnes, or 43 per cent, of fine dust is expected to be reduced," the ministry added.

The comparison is with the period from December 2018 to February 2019, before adoption of the seasonal curbs, it said.

In 2017, South Korea's air quality was the worst among the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), data from the grouping of industrialised nations showed.

Coal accounted for the largest share of 2019 electricity generation, at about 41 per cent of the total or 238.7 terawatt-hours, followed by natural gas and nuclear energy, BP's 2020 Statistical Review of World Energy showed.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.