SEOUL, Aug. 27 (Yonhap) -- The cost of coal-fired power hit a new record this year as supply dropped, data showed Monday, a cause of alarm for a country where coal is the biggest source of power generation.
Records from the local energy industry and the Electric Power Statistics Information System (EPSIS) put the average coal-fired power generation cost at 52.64 won (US$0.047) per kilowatt-hour (kWh). This is 10.5 percent higher than last year's 47.62 won and breaks the 48.74 won record set in 2012. Compared with 2016, the latest figure is more than a 50 percent increase from 34.71 won.
Industry officials attributed the rising cost to the supply drop by major producing countries like Australia. The price of coal rose an average 21.2 percent annually over the most recent three years. What was priced at $57.5 per ton in 2015 now costs $101.4, data showed.
As of the first half of the year, 41 percent of the country's generated power came from coal, 28.8 percent from liquefied natural gas (LNG) and 21.5 percent from nuclear reactors.
The cost difference between coal-fired power and LNG has been narrowing, according to the data. In 2014, the cost of the former was $37.02 compared with $145.54 of the latter. This year, comparative figures were $52.64 and $93.70.
"If you consider taxes and environmental burden, coal is not a cheap source of energy," an industry official said. "We need a policy shift so that we can establish an appropriate portfolio using the four energy sources -- coal, reactors, LNG and renewables."
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