Published : 2013-08-14 20:44
Updated : 2013-08-14 20:44
The sweltering heat wave shows no signs of letting up, forcing the nation to continue its all-out struggle to avoid a major power shortage.
For weeks, temperatures have remained at an unusually high level across the nation. In some areas, including Ulsan and Gimhae in South Gyeongsang Province, the mercury rose to 40 degrees Celsius, setting new highs.
The relentless heat wave pushed electricity consumption to levels far exceeding those forecast by power authorities, threatening to cause serious power outages.
These days, not a day passes without the government issuing power shortage warnings as electricity consumption is forecast to exceed the nation’s power generation capacity.
Yet thus far, the nation has been able to avert a major disruption, such as the rolling blackout it suffered about two years ago, thanks large to concerted efforts by the government, citizens and businesses to cut back on electricity consumption.
To cope with power shortages, the government has taken unprecedented measures. It placed a temporary ban on air conditioning at all government and public offices from Monday to Wednesday, a period when the nation’s power demand was expected to reach its annual peak.
Some businesses voluntarily shortened their work hours, putting up with production disruptions.
Such efforts helped authorities to maintain the power reserve at above 4 million kilowatts.
The government, citizens and businesses should not let their guard down yet. They need to maintain their power saving efforts and put up with inconvenience for a little longer as the meteorological office forecasts that the heat wave will continue until the middle of next week.
The nation’s power crisis has worsened following the shutdown of two of its 23 nuclear reactors due to the substandard parts used in them. On top of that, several others have also been out of operation for regular maintenance or inspection.
The government now needs to rush to normalize the operation of the two halted reactors by replacing the parts with high-quality ones.
More fundamentally, it needs to start serious efforts to rein in power consumption in the industrial sector.
According to OECD data, per capita industrial electricity consumption in Korea was 4,617 kilowatts in 2011, almost double the OECD average of 2,445 kilowatts.
In contrast, Korea’s per capita residential electricity consumption was 1,240 kilowatts in 2011, about half the OECD average of 2,448 kilowatts.
The figures clearly show what the government should do to tackle the power crisis. It needs to gradually break away from its energy-intensive industrial structure.