POSCO officials look at monitors during a blackout drill at a control room in the steel maker's Pohang plant in June. / Courtesy of POSCO
By Yi Whan-woo
POSCO is taking the lead in the government's energy-saving campaign by reducing energy consumption at its plants nationwide.
The government plans to regulate energy consumption among large conglomerates, including the country's leading steel makers, which consume a significant amount of electricity. Specifically, it will require companies that use more than 5,000 kilowatts of electricity per month to reduce their consumption by up to 15 percent.
In response, the country's leading steel manufacturer said it will temporarily suspend or lower the operation rate of electric furnaces at its plants. Electric furnaces can be adjusted manually, unlike blast furnaces, which usually run continuously for over 10 years once they are activated.
The operation rates of electric furnaces at POSCO's three mills in Pohang, North Gyeongsang Province and two others in Gwangju, South Jeolla Province will be adjusted, the company said.
It will also operate its two electric furnaces at a plant in Changwon, South Gyeongsang Province alternately, and carry out maintenance on the furnaces in August instead of October.
"We will reduce the running hours of those furnaces especially in August when electricity demand will peak," the steel maker said.
POSCO, however, emphasized complying with the government's policy, will not hamper its operations.
"We generate up to 70 percent of the electricity that we consume annually by utilizing the gas by-product of the steelmaking process," it said. "We don't think the government's measures will affect our plant operations."
The government predicted early this month that the country's peak demand for electricity will reach 78.7 million kilowatts in the summer, up 1.45 million kilowatts from a year earlier. If the peak demand exceeds total capacity, a blackout may occur.
POSCO said it can save up to 380,000 kilowatts during the entire summer season. The figure is equivalent to the total use of 1 million households in one month.
The steel manufacturer has carried out other energy reduction activities in line with the government's campaign. For instance, it currently maintains the temperatures at its headquarters in southern Seoul and other locations at 28 degrees Celsius, and allows its workers to wear casual clothes instead of traditional business attire.