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Korea to showcase smart grids at G20

JEJU ISLAND Korea is hoping to make the Group of 20 summit next week an opportunity for the country to become a leading player in smart grid technology through a test bed in Jeju Island.

The resort island hosts the Korea Smart Grid Week Nov. 8-14 at Jeju Phoenix Island resort, where Korea will show the leaders of the world’s most powerful economies the country’s latest electricity management technologies.

“Jeju Island has the world’s largest and most advanced smart grid test bed. The KSGW will function as a square for exchanges of information, business models, technology and discussions,” Minister of Knowledge Economy Choi Kyung-hwan said. 
An engineer monitors the real-time electricity output and demand of the households in the Jeju smart grid test bed at the Total Operating Center. (Korea Smart Grid Institute)
An engineer monitors the real-time electricity output and demand of the households in the Jeju smart grid test bed at the Total Operating Center. (Korea Smart Grid Institute)

A smart grid allows real-time monitoring of electricity output and demand. The system is designed to incorporate solar panels and wind power generators into the main power grid, and lets consumers store energy and sell it back to the power company.

The event is co-hosted by the knowledge economy ministry, International Smart Grid Action Network and International Energy Agency.

Alongside attending conferences and workshops on smart grids, participants to will tour the test-bed site, where about 600 households are already pilot-operating the smart grid system.

Currently, multiple consortiums led by SK Telecom, KT, LG Electronics and Korea Electric Power Corporation are operating their own smart grid system in the region.

“What makes the Jeju community unique from other such test beds overseas is that it incorporates all aspects of the smart grid from residence to transportation and renewable energy making it a true yardstick for the future,” a ministry official said.

In addition to using “smart electricity meters,” the Jeju system has an infrastructure to allow the full use of electric vehicles, a network to harness clean power sources, and electric services and grids which can enhance energy conservation.

Special meters also tell users when electricity prices are cheapest during the day so they can recharge home appliances and cars more cheaply.

Korea has been seeking a sustainable growth while dealing with climate change issues. Green growth has thus been pushed as a key policy of the Lee Myung-bak administration with government voluntarily having pledged to reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2020.

As a part of these efforts, Korea launched the plan to build a smart grid test bed on Jeju Island last December.

Seoul intends to offer a “green” development model through the G20 Summit for other countries including China and India who are categorized as developing countries under the Kyoto Protocol.

The test bed is scheduled to be completed in 2013 and will eventually benefit 6,000 households on the country’s southernmost island. It is expected to help Seoul evaluate locally-made energy systems in a functioning environment.

Seoul plans to invest around 58 billion won ($46.5 million), or roughly half of the construction cost, with the rest of the fund created by the private sector.

By Koh Young-aah (