New capacity restrictions to limit S Korean coal use

Source :


An increase in capacity restrictions across South Korea's coal fleet is expected to keep coal-fired generation under pressure in the near term despite the end of the winter suspension plan.

Five state-operated coal units with a combined capacity of 2.5GW have been placed in the emergency capacity reserve for varying periods over the first three weeks of April, according to a schedule published by the Korea Power Exchange on 2 April. The emergency capacity reserve is a mechanism by which coal units can be suspended or restricted in order to reduce fine dust and other emissions.

The additional restrictions mean that around 20.1GW of state-owned Kepco coal capacity is scheduled to be available this month, which would be down from 21.4GW 12 months ago, according to Argus analysis. South Korean coal-fired generation totalled 20.5GW in April 2020, comprising 18.4GW from Kepco utilities and 2.1GW from private generators.

But daily peak power demand has run ahead of 2020 levels in recent weeks and nuclear availability is expected to fall slightly on the year — two factors which should support generation from fossil fuels this month compared with April 2020. Coal is also likely to be competitive with gas for power generation this month, which may encourage utilities to dispatch their available coal capacity at a higher load than in April 2020, potentially offsetting some of the impact of the increase in restrictions.

Around 86pc of available Kepco coal capacity was dispatched in April 2020, which was down from 93pc and 89pc in April 2018 and April 2019, respectively.

By Jake Horslen


Related Regular News: