Thabametsi coal-fired power plant project in South Africa suffers a setback

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The proposed implementation of the 630-MW Thabametsi coal-fired power plant project in South Africa has been hit by a major setback. This is after Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kepco) led by its chief executive Mr. Kim Jong-gap announced its plans to cancel or convert to LNG two remaining overseas coal power projects in its pipeline. These projects include the 1,000MW Sual 2 project in the Philippines and the 630MW Thabametsi plant in South Africa.

Kim Jong-gap made the revelation in an annual governmental audit hearing by the Korean National Assembly. He also mentioned that Kepco has no plans to pursue overseas coal power projects in the future.

Criticism around Kepco’s oversees coal-fired power plant projects

South Korea’s recent overseas coal power projects in Indonesia and Vietnam have been met with widespread international criticism, especially given the Moon administration’s drive with the Korean Green New Deal, which aims for a “net-zero emissions society,” earlier this year, and more recently, the Korean legislature’s adoption of a climate crisis declaration last month.

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There has also been much local opposition to the Sual 2 project, as well as the 1,200 MW Sual-1 Power Station, which has been operational for over 20 years. On October 13th this year, activists from the Save Sual Movement, Philippine Movement for Climate Justice, and Asian Peoples’ Movement on Debt and Development held a rally in front of the Korean embassy in the Philippines, voicing their opposition to the project. Activists also held a demonstration in Sual on the day of the National Assembly hearing on KEPCO as well.

South African environmental organizations have also expressed concerns with regard to the impact of the Thabametsi coal-fired power station on climate change. According to their impact assessments, emissions from the Thabametsi coal plant could be 60% higher than that of Medupi and Kusile.