Korea Electric Power to Invest $1.8 Billion in Smart Power Grid by 2015

Korea Electric Power Corp., South Korea’s biggest electricity producer, plans to invest 2 trillion won ($1.8 billion) over the next five years in a smart grid as part of the government’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions.

Adding two-way communications and other enhancements to the nation’s current power-transmission grid nationwide by 2030 may cut about 10 percent of South Korea’s annual power consumption, which currently is worth 37 trillion won, according to Hong Sung Eui, the utility’s head of strategy for the technology.

“A smart grid, which helps cut energy consumption and accommodate more wind and solar power, is essential for reducing harmful gases as the power sector is the biggest emitter in every country,” Hong said in an interview yesterday.

South Korea, Asia’s fourth-largest energy user, has said the state and private industry may spend about 27.5 trillion won by 2030 building smart grids. The technologies aim at enabling consumers to get real-time price and supply data and providing incentives to reduce power use during peak-demand periods. The system also should allow the network to better integrate fluctuations of supply from wind- and sun-based generators.

“The upgraded power grid will help the nation, which buys all its energy needs from overseas, reduce import of coal, gas and oil,” Kim Seung Woo, an analyst at Samsung Securities Co., said by phone today. Korea Electric doesn’t have to build costly plants to meet a surge in demand, Kim said.

Korea Electric fell 0.9 percent to 27,350 won in Seoul trading, compared with a 0.8 percent increase in the benchmark Kospi index. (KOSPI) The stock fell 11 percent in 2010.

Renewable Energy

Korea Electric will spend 4.9 trillion won by 2030 on upgrading the transmission and distribution system, and 1.4 trillion won on expanding the use of renewable energy, according to Hong. South Korea aims to boost the use of renewable energy including solar and wind to 11 percent of total power supplies by 2030 from 2 percent.

The government said in 2009 that it would voluntarily reduce carbon emissions by 30 percent from the expected 2020 level, or 4 percent below its emissions in 2005. Power accounts for about 40 percent of total emissions, according to data from the Ministry of Knowledge Economy.

Korea Electric is also seeking to export smart grid technologies and is targeting sales of $4 billion annually from overseas markets, starting 2030, said Jung Choon Sik, senior manager of its overseas project technology development team. The company is in talks with a Russian power company to export smart-grid equipment, Korea Electric said on March 2.

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