South Korea Business Report

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Discovery Reports

KOWEPO eyes sustainable growth as global green energy company

Prime mover in South Korea’s power industry plans to convert 20 per cent of total power generation into renewable energy

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 March, 2018, 11:51am
UPDATED : Thursday, 01 March, 2018, 11:51am

[Country Business Reports interviews and articles by Discovery Reports]

As part of its sustainable green growth initiative, Korea Western Power (KOWEPO) – a prime mover and innovator in the 21st century Korean power industry – has set a challenging goal of converting 20 per cent of its total power generation capacity into renewable energy.

To achieve the target, 6.15 trillion South Korean won (HK$44.5 billion) will be invested by 2030. KOWEPO is already making tremendous efforts to transform its conventional Taean thermal power complex into a renewable multi-purpose power-generating facility. Located within the Taeanhaean National Park in Chungcheongnam-do, the 6,100MW thermal plant is the largest coal-fired power station in South Korea and the core power generation facility of KOWEPO.

Ensuring that plant operations are in harmony with its surrounding environment, the Taean complex is outfitted with the latest flue gas desulphurisation facilities, continuous coal handling machines and wastewater treatment facilities. The complex is the first among Korean power plants to receive ISO14001 and ISO9001 certification.

In May 2016, KOWEPO brought online a 1.84MW waterside photovoltaic power unit at the site. Additional renewable energy plants are planned to be built at the Taean complex, including wind and hydroelectric power units, along with a 50MW waterside photovoltaic power plant in the lake near the complex.

Beyond energy generation, KOWEPO strives to deliver happiness to people. Its focus is on enhancing quality of life via sustainable performance improvements and green technology developments to minimise the emission of environmental pollutants. In line with this strategic direction, KOWEPO started commercial operations of an integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) power plant at the Taean complex in August 2016. The eco-friendly facility, with installed capacity of 346.3MW, is the first commercial IGCC project in South Korea and one of only seven worldwide.

The Taean IGCC power plant is a major leap forward for KOWEPO as a global environmentally friendly energy corporate. IGCC technology uses a high-pressure gasifier to turn coal into a synthesis gas. It is superior in generating efficiency and environmental pollutant substance removal efficiency. In addition to further commercialising the technology, KOWEPO is looking at the feasibility of integrated gasification fuel cell technology.

Since its spin-off from the Korea Electric Power Corp in 2011, KOWEPO has achieved remarkable growth year by year. In addition to the Taean facility, KOWEPO operates three eco-friendly power complexes: Pyeongtaek, Seoincheon and Gunsan.

The four facilities, together with the company’s renewable energy plants, have a combined capacity of almost 12,000MW, up from 6,000MW in 2011. KOWEPO accounts for 10 per cent of the national total generation capacity. From having corporate assets at merely 2.9 trillion won in 2011, KOWEPO’s corporate assets surged to 9 trillion won to date.

In 2016, KOWEPO recorded the world’s highest level of reliability in power generation facilities with a 0.055 per cent breakdown rate and a 0.076 per cent unplanned loss rate. The company intends to further improve power generation cost and operational efficiency by using big data and the internet-of-things technology.

Capitalising on the world’s best experience and know-how gained from its core business, KOWEPO is establishing its position as a global power company by constructing and operating power plants around the world, such as in Saudi Arabia, India, Myanmar and Indonesia, including a hydroelectric power plant in Laos.

In Vietnam, KOWEPO has announced plans to implement a 1,200MW coal-fired power plant in Quang Tri province and a joint 200MW photovoltaic power plant project in the mid-southern area. In Indonesia, KOWEPO operates and maintains the Sumsel-5 coal-fired power plant and is in talks to venture into biomass-based power generation.

By 2030, KOWEPO is expected to operate 11,000MW of power generation facilities all over the world apart from its South Korean capacity, and record 1.5 trillion won in overseas sales, making it a truly global power company.