S. Korea Approves Private Coal Power Plants to Spread Investment

South Korea granted approval for Samsung C&T Corp. and three other private companies to build eight coal-fired power plants as part of an energy plan that spreads investment among state and private power generators.

The companies, including Tongyang Power Co., SK Engineering & Construction Co. and a Dongbu Group unit, will build the plants by 2027, the Ministry of Knowledge Economy said in an e-mailed statement. Combined, the plants will generate 8,000 megawatts. Investment amounts weren’t revealed.

The approval is the first time in three decades that private operators have been given the nod to build coal-fired plants and is part of a road map outlining energy investments for the next 15 years. The road map will be updated in the first half of the year to reflect President-elect Park Geun Hye’s nuclear power policies.

Park takes office Feb. 25, having pledged to focus on nuclear safety. The 2010 energy plan called for the nation to generate 49 percent of its electricity output from reactors in 2024, compared with 33 percent in 2011.

South Korea, which relies on imported oil for all its supplies, has been trying to cut reliance on crude and diversify energy sources to include renewables and other clean energies.

The nation is vulnerable to blackouts after the government miscalculated demand when planning power plants over the last decade. Some projects were either canceled or delayed because South Korea caps electricity prices to control inflation. Private coal plant operators sold out to Korea Electric Power Corp. in 1982.

The plan released today aims to develop power generation capacity by 2027 that will exceed demand by 22 percent.

Renewable Push

Asia’s fourth-largest economy is trying to restrain the growth in electricity consumption to an average of 2.2 percent annually through 2027.

Under the plan released today, state generators will add 2,740 megawatts of coal-fired plants, the ministry said. Private and state generators, including SK E&S Co. and Daewoo Engineering & Construction Co., will also construct six more liquefied natural gas-fired power plants with combined capacity of 5,060 megawatts.

South Korea aims to have enough renewable energy facilities to generate 32,020 megawatts, or 20 percent of overall power generation, by 2027. That’s an increase from the 11.4 percent target set in 2010 when the government mapped out its last energy-supply plan, according to the statement.

Renewable-energy sources will account for 12 percent of power supply by 2027, up from the 7 percent target set in 2010, the ministry said today.

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