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South Korea intends to close 30 coal-fired power plants by 2034

The government of South Korean plans to shut down 10 existing coal-fired power plants by 2022, and another 20 by 2034, in a bid to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and to promote renewable energy sources. Four coal-fired units have already been closed, namely Yeongdong Units 1 and 2 (325 MW) and Seocheon Units 1 and 2 (400 MW). The government plans to stop by 2022 Samcheonpo Units 1 and 2 (1,120 MW), Honam Units 1 and 2 (500 MW), and Boryeong Units 1 and 2 (1,00 MW) that are still in operation. The 20 other coal-fired power plants to shut down by 2034 have not been specified so far. In addition, the South Korea administration intends to triple the number of solar and wind power plants by 2025 compared with 2019.

In May 2020, South Korea unveiled a long-term energy plan (basic energy policy for the years 2020-2034) shifting from thermal and nuclear power generation to renewable energies. The plan aims to raise the share of renewables in the power capacities from the current 15% to 40% by 2034, while keeping the share of LNG-fired power plants from around 31-32% and closing all the coal-fired power plants whose 30-year operational life expire by 2034.

South Korea currently has 60 coal-fired power plants accounting for more than 1/4 of total power generation in 2019. Half of the operational coal-fired power plants would be concerned by this 30-year closure conditions. The government plans to convert 24 of them to LNG to avoid any power shortage, as the peak demand should increase by an average 1%/year to reach 104 GW in 2034.

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