South Korea announced this week that it will invest $7.18 billion into a nationwide smart grid, to be completed by 2030. The state-run Korea Electric Power Corp (KEPCO) announced the move, saying the investment is an effort to curb the country's carbon emissions and improve efficiency in its electricity market.
South Korea has been hailed for smaller-scale greening efforts, including turning landfills into hydrogen generators, constructing massive 131-acre rooftop gardens, and introducing electric scooters for local cops, but it still remains a relatively high carbon polluter within the member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
Constructing and relying on a smart grid allows for greater efficiency in power distribution and maintenance. Metering, monitoring, and balancing demand form the core of a smart grid, and allow two-way communications between supplier and consumers. Consumers can play a more active role in determining their power usage through home appliance monitoring and direct feedback from the grid.
The newly announced investment means that the country will draw 11% of its energy from renewable sources, such as wind and solar. Of the 8 trillion won (US$7.18 billion) investment, $358 million will be spent per year until 2016, then another round of $2.1 billion by 2020, and the total investment will be made by the year 2030.
South Korea is certainly trying to beef up its green reputation—as visitors arrive at the Seoul airport, the adjacent highways are lined with solar panels and throughout the capital are dedicated parks, tree-lined streams, and other explicitly green gestures. The greening effort has also helped support Seoul's bid to be a design leader; it was named the world design capital of 2010.
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