South Korea to suspend eight older coal-fired power plants to tackle pollution

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea will halt operations at eight of the country’s older coal-fired power plants for a month in June as part of measures to tackle air pollution, the energy ministry said on Tuesday.

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 eight of the 10 older coal-fired plants will be temporarily shut down from June 1 for one month, while the other two 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.

Coal power currently accounts for about 40 percent of South Korea’s total electricity needs.

The country operates a total of 59 coal-fired power plants and the 10 older power plants account for 10.6 percent of the installed coal power capacity, or 3.3 gigawatts.

Reporting By Jane Chung; Editing by Richard Pullin