SEJONG -- The South Korean government is considering a move to reduce operations at coal-fired power plants to cope with excessive levels of fine dust particles in the air, the energy minister said Tuesday.
"As people are deeply worried about fine dust, (the government) is reviewing a plan to restrict power production at coal-fired plants when particle levels become serious," Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy Joo Hyung-hwan said during a ground-breaking event in Cheongju.
Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy Joo Hyung-hwan speaks at an event in Cheongju on April 25, 2017. (Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy)
His comment came as the country has been experiencing frequent ultra-fine dust alerts especially in the spring, with people advised to refrain from outdoor activities.
The particulates, known to cause various respiratory problems while also affecting the body's immune system, are believed to mainly come from the western deserts of China and domestic smog.
Along with the Chinese source, local coal-powered generators are blamed for playing a key role in emitting fine dust particles and causing air pollution.
In order to tackle worsening fine dust emissions, the South Korean government said earlier it will shut down 10 aged coal-fired power plants in the next 10 years and no longer build new ones.
Coal-powered electricity accounted for 28 percent of the country's total power production in 2015, following nuclear power with 33 percent.
Also, the energy minister said the government will increase the share of electricity produced by renewable energy sources like solar power to 11 percent by 2025, up from the current 4.6 percent. (Yonhap)