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Keeping the lights on with leftover fat, grease

Sept 11,2018
Starting next year, the fat and grease that drips off of cooking pork belly will be used to fuel thermal power plants.

The Ministry of Trade Commerce and Energy on Monday announced the enactment of a law that will replace the bunker C oil currently used in thermal power plants with used cooking oil, including fat from barbecue restaurants.

The government said that, currently, the fat and oil that comes out of cooked meat, such as samgyeopsal, or pork belly, is thrown out as it has no further use.

The utilization of this oil will contribute to improving the environment.

The government and power plants, since 2014, have been testing the use of biofuel and have confirmed that it is appropriate to use used cooking oils as fuel.

In fact, the study found that using biofuel was more environmentally friendly as it significantly reduces the emission of sulfur oxides, which is one of the main causes of fine dust.

When compared to bunker C oil, biofuel emits 39 percent less nitrous oxide and 28 percent less fine dust. Greenhouse gas emission fell more than 85 percent.

Currently, only five thermal power plants have testing the use of biofuel, but the new program will gradually be rolled out to all 14.

As of 2016, roughly 48 percent of thermal power plants in Korea were powered by coal, 36 percent by nuclear power, 11 percent by liquefied natural gas, 3 percent by fossil fuels and 2 percent by hydropower.

“Once these biofuel oils are commercialized, it will contribute to achieving the [government’s] renewable energy 3020 target,” said a ministry official. “In the future, it will contribute to reducing emissions of fine dust and greenhouse gases.”

The government announced the 3020 energy plan at the end of last year. The plan is to raise the contribution of renewable energy to 20 percent by 2030.


BY LEE HO-JEONG [lee.hojeong@joongang.co.kr]