GE to Help South Korean Company Switch from Coal to Gas

Earlier this week, GE Vernova announced that it would provide a H65 generator and a 7HA.02 gas turbine to Korea Western Power Co’s Gongju-si power station in the province of Chungcheongnam-do.  Korea Western Power Co (KOWEPO) operates as a subsidiary of Korea Electric Power Corp. KOWEPO is spearheading a 500MW project as it transitions to using natural gas by 2027. At the moment, however, the station is powered using coal.

GE Vernova is part of a group developing the project, together with Daewoo E&C, an engineering, construction and procurement company based in Korea. The project will use hydrogen in its fuel mixture. The gaseous component will be determined by the scale of future hydrogen production in South Korea.

Recent data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration shows that natural-gas- and coal-fired generation generates roughly two-thirds of electricity in South Korea. Nuclear power makes up about 26% of remaining total power generated. South Korea relies on imports of liquefied natural gas and coal because it doesn’t produce any fossil fuels domestically.

In a news release, a KOWEPO representative explained that the new power plant would increase production capacity and, in turn, power supply security in the country while phasing out generation of power using coal. The statement added that the power plant would also increase capacity to dispatch power quickly in response to fluctuations in the grid.

Construction of the new facility is expected to start in 2025, with officials noting this week that burning natural gas at the plant could decrease carbon emissions by almost 60% and reduce emissions of sulfur oxides (SOx), nitrogen oxides (NOx), particulate matter and mercury. This aligns with South Korea’s national goal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 through the deployment of green hydrogen and renewables at large scale. The country is also planning to retire 30 or more coal-fired plants by 2034 as part of its phase out plan.

In a statement, GE Vernova’s Ramesh Singaram stated that the company was proud to support a lower carbon future in the country and was committed to furnishing KOWEPO with its advanced turbine technology to accelerate the phasing out of coal and adopt lower-carbon gas-based power generation using hydrogen. The Gongju-si power plant is expected to be among the most flexible and efficient plants in the country when it commences operations. GE Vernova has operated in the east Asian country since the 1970s and has a strong presence with gas turbines that can generate more than 14GW of electricity across the nation.

As more companies whose plants have been fueled by coal make plans to switch to energy sources such as natural gas with fewer emissions, the writing is on the wall for coal companies such as Warrior Met Coal Inc. (NYSE: HCC). These trends indicate that coal is increasingly growing out of favor around the world and its use could soon decline to levels that render the industry obsolete.

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