Korea’s commitment towards Smart Grids

South Korea, Asia’s fourth-largest energy user, may spend about 27.5 trillion won ($24 billion) by 2030 building so-called smart power grids. The government also aims to open 27,000 battery charging stations by 2030 for electric vehicles. At the end of 2009, the cumulative installed capacity was 348 MW in South Korea.

The declared target is the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and the simultaneous increased of renewable energy generation. The latter will result in a more efficient electricity distribution, by virtue of which about $26 million will be recovered by cutting energy imports.

The Seoul administration has picked eight consortiums to implement smart grid projects, for which the State will grant about $2.4 billion in funding, while the remaining 21.5 billion will be provided by private investors.

With its 48 million inhabitants, South Korea has the highest rate of growth of climate-changing emissions out of all the 30 Members of the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development of industrialized countries) and is, the fifth greatest oil importer. The government is therefore seeking ways to reduce both the burden of emissions, and fossil fuel imports.

South Korean automotive components manufacturer Hyundai Mobis and chemicals manufacturer LG Chem have officially launched their joint venture to produce lithium-ion batteries for electric cars.

Regarding the development of renewable sources, in addition to wind power and solar energy, the country is committed to harness marine energy.

Last year the first small (1 MW) plant was completed to exploit tidal currents, and by 2010 the Siwha facility is expected to enter into service, providing 254 MW of power and thus becoming the largest in the world which uses tidal gradients. In 2011, the construction will begin a large 1300 MW power station (to be completed in 2017), which will harness tidal energy near the island of Gangwha. Also a 1,000 MW marine energy plant will be built at Incheon and 300 MW of hydrokinetic turbines will be installed in the internal waterways of Wando Hoenggan.

With rising oil prices and growing public awareness of the changing environment, wind energy stocks in South Korea are enjoying increasing investor interest.

Wind Turbine Generator Manufacturers in Sputh Korea:

-Hyosung Coporation: 750 kW, gear type; 2MW, gear type: under proof test operation
-Unison Co: 750 kW, gearless type: 2MW, gearless type: under proof test operation
-Hyundai Heavy Industry: 5/3.6MW offshore type /2.5MW on-shore type: Tech inducement and development
-Doosan Heavy Industry: 3MW offshore type development
-Samsung Heavy Industry: 2.5MW: Tech inducement and development
-Hanjin: 1.5MW: under proof test operation

Scores of wind turbines will be installed on the shallow seabed of the West Sea in 2012 in order to carry out feasibility studies of the new technology, which the country regards as one of its future growth cash cows.

“We plan to construct an offshore wind farm whose annual capacity is around 100 megawatts. Multiple wind turbines are likely to be built in the West Sea where the sea floor is not so deep while winds are strong,” MKE Director Hwang Soo-sung said.

“Its capacity will be eventually extended by more than 10 fold to beyond 1 gigawatt. The technology will later be exported as offshore wind power generation gains popularity across the world,” he said.

The large-sized wind farm is projected to cost hundreds of millions of dollars, which the government hopes private corporations will pay. A lot of players are working in this area at the moment such as Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction and Hyosung Corp.

Wind energy, which currently accounts for around 1.5 percent of global electricity generation, has been touted as one of the most promising alternative energy sources to replace fossil fuels.

It is plentiful, renewable and clean because it has nothing to do with harmful gas emissions. But some are opposed to the idea due to its downsides. Song added that if successful, the offshore wind power complex would help Asia’s fourth-largest economy nurture next-generation growth engines as global demand for the technologies increase.