South Korea Threatened by Worst Power Shortages This Summer

South Korea will make public organizations cut power use and fine businesses that keep their doors open while using air-conditioning as the country faces its worst-ever electricity shortages.

All public offices must reduce power use by at least 15 percent in July and August compared with a year ago, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said in a statement today. Temperatures in large buildings must remain above 26 degrees Celsius (79 Fahrenheit) during peak demand periods.

South Korea, which depends on nuclear energy for more than 30 percent of its electricity, is trying to curb power consumption after two nuclear plants were shut this week and the start of operations at another was delayed. Demand may exceed capacity by 1,980,000 kilowatts in the second week of August, as consumption peaks amid higher-than normal temperatures, the ministry said.

“We expect the worst power shortages this summer because of the closures of the three nuclear reactors,” the ministry said. “Positive efforts for conservation are urgently needed. If we go through this summer safely, shortages will be resolved next summer as new power plants come on stream.”

The Shin-Kori No. 2 and Shin-Wolsong No. 1 reactors will be shut for about four months to replace control cables supplied under fake quality warranties, the Energy Ministry said May 28. The government also ordered the replacement of cables at the Shin-Kori No. 1 reactor, which is already shut for regular maintenance, and at the new Shin-Wolsong No. 2 plant, which is being reviewed before commencing operations.

Solar Power

To increase supply, the country will build a solar power plant with 100,000 kilowatts of capacity and increase operating rates at private power plants, the ministry said. It will ensure stable supply of liquefied natural gas.

The government will also encourage factories to adjust operation schedules, the ministry said. It will impose surcharges on peak-time use, while offering discounts to users during low-demand time, it said.

Shares of Korea Electric Power Corp., the state-controlled monopoly distributor, fell 2.6 percent to close at 26,800 won, the lowest level since December 11. The local benchmark Kospi index was almost unchanged.

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