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Strong Opposition Forces Indefinite Postponement of Construction Plans for Dangjin Coal-fired Power Plant in S. Korea

The South Korean Government is planning to build a number of new coal-fired power plants as Japan. Citizens, however, have launched campaigns against such plants.
One of these is the proposed Dangjin Eco Power station which is set to be located approximately 60km southwest of Seoul. It’s a 1,160MW (Units 9 and 10 with a capacity of 540MW each) USC (Ultra Super Critical) coal-fired power station. This is the first project exceeding a capacity of 1,000MW in South Korea; however, protest by citizens and the mayor’s one-week hunger strike prompted this plan to be indefinitely postponed in July 2016.

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(Photo: Jieon Lee, Korea Federation for Environmental Movements/Flickr)

Dangjin Col-fired Power Plant and movement of citizen

In Dangin, there is already one coal-fired power plant being operated by EWP (Korea East-West Power Company), one of KEPCO’s (Korea Electric Power Corporation) subsidiary companies. The expansion plan to build two new units, which are set to start operations in November 2021 and March 2022 respectively, had been moving forward. Since the Korean government didn’t release details of the projects’ asset value, the banks were not able to evaluate its value to hand out loans and held to provide project’s financial support. Thus, the projects ran into severe cash flow problems
On July 19th, about 900 people gathered to protest against the proposed plant, which was expected to be approved by July 28. The following week, the Mayor of Dangjin, Hongjang Kim, and two leaders of a local citizen group went on a hunger strike. Kim stated. “As a citizen of Dangjin, I have a right to live happily in decent environment without discrimination. I urged the government to take full responsibility to protect the people from the damage of the coal-fired power plant.” Considering this protest, the government announced the proposed plant would be delayed indefinitely on the afternoon of July 26th.

Even though South Korea seems to be going down the wrong path like Japan, Korean citizens who have taken notice of the problems with the expansion plan, took strong action. Now the construction of new coal-fired power plants is getting harder than ever.
This movement has an effect on Japanese firms. Some Japanese firms have been involved in this Dangjin project – MHI (Mtsubishi Heavy Industries) Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) and Marubeni Corporation, who have jointly received an order for two steam turbines and generators, and Emerson Japan for a distributed control system (DCS).
The anti-coal movement by Korean citizens could also have an impact on the export of Japanese coal technologies.

Where South Korea to go?

In South Korea, 11 units with a combined capacity of over 10,000MW are already under construction. If all these proposed units and Dangjin are built, the dependence on energy from coal-fired power plants will increase heavily. The Korean government announced that they will close old power plants but it is clear that is not enough to achieve the “2 °C target” under the Paris Agreement.
We will keep watching how South Korea will reduce its greenhouse emissions to reach this target.

Reference:

Hunger strike pushes South Korea to defer coal plant plan
Dangjin Eco power station

Global Coal Plant Tracker

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