GUMI, NORTH GYEONGSANG, June 5 (Korea Bizwire) – South Korean energy company Gumi Green Energy’s plan to build a new thermal power station in Gumi by 2020 is facing criticism from environmental groups, local government officials and residents at a time when air pollution is one of the biggest challenges facing the country.
The energy company, funded by GS E&R, says its proposal will see the construction of a new thermal power station, which will run by burning renewable energy sources including wood chips and wood pellets.
As the Electricity Regulatory Commission at the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy gave the project the green light last month, Gumi Green Energy is set to proceed with the rest of the approval process, after which the energy company will pump 129 billion won into building a wood burning thermal power plant with an electricity generation capacity of 29.9MW.
Despite the company’s confidence, questions are growing over the seal of approval from the Electricity Regulatory Commission, which seems to reflect the opinion of a few at the expense of many in the region.
One of the main critical points is aimed at the suspicious electricity generation capacity.
Compared to the existing cogeneration plant currently in operation, which covers 5 percent of the power consumption in the region, the newly proposed thermal power plant will cover only 2 percent, and some critics argue that it’s a calculated move on the part of Gumi Green Energy to stay under the radar and bypass an environmental evaluation.
“It is sly of Gumi Green Energy to build a power plant with an electricity generation capacity of less than 30MW so as to conveniently evade an environmental impact assessment. The reason why some of local residents and companies got on board is that they weren’t explained the nature of the project in detail,” Gumi-based economics expert Nam Dong-soo said.
Within the vicinity of the proposed location for the new power plant is a residential area with a hospital and a number of schools, and as such growing criticism has seen a local council, environmental groups and local members of the incumbent Democratic Party issue statements or resolutions opposing the establishment of the newly proposed thermal power plant.
“Burning 500 tons of waste wood for power generation will result in a significant quantity of pollutants. As it goes against our green city stance, we will seek an alternative,” Gumi Mayor Nam Yu-jin said.
Though Gumi Green Energy might have the support of 60 companies and some residents, the local government argued their support pales in comparison to the 340,000 citizens and some 3,000 companies that are opposed.
Hyunsu Yim (firstname.lastname@example.org)