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SEOUL, May 24 (Yonhap) -- South Korea on Friday began operating its first carbon capture facility at a thermal power plant that is designed to cut greenhouse gas emissions by over 90 percent.
The carbon capture and storage (CCS) unit at the Boryeong Thermal Power Plant Complex on the country's west coast is currently attached to a 10-megawatt station to test its effectiveness, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.
The CCS facility is expected to capture about 80,000 tons, or over 90 percent, of carbon dioxide per year from the 10,000-kilowatt power generation facility.
"It is a test unit that will check its actual effectiveness in practice before the CCS unit is applied to larger power stations with a maximum generation capacity of 100,000-500,000 kilowatts," the ministry said in a press release.
The CCS unit, if proven effective, will help significantly reduce the country's greenhouse gas emission.
South Korea voluntarily pledged in 2009 to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent from its business-as-usual levels in 2020.
However, the country currently plans to build an additional 12 thermal power generation facilities with a combined total generation capacity of 10.74 million kilowatts by 2027.
The ministry such an increase of thermal power plants was inevitable because of their low cost.
One kilowatt of electricity generated from a thermal power plant is currently sold at 66.3 won (US$0.06) while the same amount of electricity from a hydraulic power plant costs 180.9 won or $0.16, while the same amount from a solar power plant costs 599.3 won or $0.53, according to the ministry.
"The successful development of the greenhouse gas capture plant will enable a new paradigm in the country's policy on thermal power plants while providing a brand new hope in fight against global warming," Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy Yoon Sang-jick said, according to the ministry.
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