SOUTH Korean demand for LNG imports to fuel power plants will rise over the next decade as government efforts to reduce coal-fired generation continue, the Ministry of Energy said in a revised Long-term Natural Supply Plan.
However, the forecast increase in demand between now and 2031 will be only modest. In the short term, demand might actually decrease for power generation as new coal-fired plants come into operation, local media reports said.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in has ordered the closure of five ageing coal plants with a combined generating capacity of 2,300 MW until June in an attempt to tackle annual spring air pollution surges mainly caused by desert dust from north Asia.
But new coal and nuclear facilities set to begin operation will add more than 4,000 MW, the Korea Herald said.
Moon was elected on a platform of pledges to tackle urban air pollution and plans to reduce the country’s coal and nuclear share of power generation, currently delivering 70% of capacity, by the 2030s.
The Korea Energy Economics Institute in March forecast that the country’s LNG consumption would grow by 3% this year as part of government efforts to reduce coal-fuelled power generation.
South Korea is already one of the world’s three biggest LNG importers, although in 2017 it slipped to third place behind Japan and China owing to Beijing’s frantic bid in the last quarter to cut coal burning in northern China.
Korean consumers imported 37.6 million tonnes last year, while China’s imports topped 38 million tonnes, the Nikkei Asian Review said citing national customs figures.
Just under half of Korean LNG imports are used to fuel power generation.
The new Energy Ministry long-term plan envisages South Korea consuming about 41 million tonnes annually by 2031, or 8% more than in 2017.
However, the Energy Ministry projections could change after the end of this year when a government-appointed group presents a report on proposals for a new national energy plan to cover the 2019-2040 period, Yonhap national news agency said. The group was appointed to examine ways of reducing pollution from power generation. v