South Korea is considering a plan to shut down aging coal-fired power plants in an attempt to address air pollution and fine dust emissions. The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy is drafting the initiative which could see the oldest and most polluting plants phased out. According to Korea Times, out of 53 coal-fired power plants in the country, 11 are over 30-years-old and three have been in operation for more than 40 years.
“The government has decided to close down aged coal-powered power plants accused of air pollution and fine dust emissions,” South Korea’s Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy Joo Hyung-Hwan said in his keynote speech at the Future Energy Forum in Seoul. He said that natural gas facilities would generate more electricity to avoid any possible electricity shortages.
While the South Korean government blames China for up to half of the fine dust floating in the air over the Korean Peninsula, Greenpeace says that 50 to 70 percent of particle-laden smog (PM2.5) comes from South Korea’s coal-fired power plants.
South Korea scrapped plans for four new coal-fired power plants as part of its commitment to the Paris climate agreement signed by nearly 200 nations this past December. However, 20 new plants are still planned by 2021.