In 2011, 31 percent of Korea’s electricity was produced from nuclear energy. In an effort to curb the environmental and safety risks associated with nuclear power, Seoul, the country’s capital is actively working to reduce its use of nuclear energy. In Seoul, power consumption alone accounts for 10.3 percent of Korea’s total consumption; however, the electricity generated in the city amounts to only 3 percent of total power production in the country. As a result, Seoul relies heavily on nuclear and coal power plants. To reduce nuclear dependency, the Seoul Municipal Government is seeking to save energy, while producing more renewable energy.
Further, as more than half of the city’s total energy consumption comes from buildings, and given that citizens consume more energy than the industry and public sectors in Seoul, it becomes imperative to decrease building energy consumption and increase citizen participation in energy savings.
The One Less Nuclear Power Initiative was adopted as a way to respond to future energy crises and reduce Seoul’s reliability on nuclear energy. The project is designed to reduce the city’s energy demand by 2 million TOE of energy, equivalent to the output of one nuclear plant, through energy conservation and the production of renewable energy sources. The ‘Make Seoul a City of Sunlight’ project is part of this initiative and seeks to identify new PV energy sources, implement a citizen-participation program, and link public facilities and private investment for the expansion of PV power generation. The following actions have been undertaken to support this vision:
- The government is encouraging private investment in PV power generation by renting unused public facilities for PV power generation.
- The city government has signed investment agreements with companies and civic organizations to build additional PV power stations with an output of 250 MW.
- A relevant ordinance was amended to calculate public facility rents based on power generation volume of buildings.
- The Seoul Solar Map was developed to identify all building and houses with the capability to accommodate PV panels and determine potential capacity. As a result, 160 buildings received permits to install PV systems in 2013, compared with only 60 locations over the 8 years before.
- The government supplied 2,579 households with rooftop PV systems in 2013 and an additional 380 units in 2014.
- $43 billion dollars were invested in installing PV generators in 285 public buildings including community centers and fire stations, which combined produced a total of 6.1 MW of electricity.
- A Citizen Fund is being created to engage citizens in construction of PV power plants. The goal is to raise $10 million at an anticipated return on investment of 4 percent per year. Investment profit will be distributed to investors according to the size of their investment after five years.
Through the ‘Make Seoul a City of Sunlight’, the Seoul Municipal Government seeks to increase the city’s PV power capacity 1.4 times over the average capacity for the past four years. In 2014, the city will build more PV facilities, whose combined capacity would reach 69 MW. As a result of increased PV power supply, GHG emissions will also be reduced, as will dependence on fossil fuels and oil. Job creation is also expected to reach 34,000 new jobs as part of this project.
This project is central to Seoul’s sustainable development strategy. First, it strengthens cooperation between the public and private sector, helps the city better prepare for serious power shortages and keeps up with increasing demand. Second, a key project goal is that 320MW of power will be generated by citizen operated solar power panels.
Seoul, with this project, is going to increase electricity generation from natural sources like solar, rather than fossil fuels and spread its exemplary practice of responding to climate change with participation from citizens and businesses to other parts of the nation and abroad.