South Korean Government Having Hard Time Figuring out the Exact Amount of Electricity Generated through Independent Solar Power Generation Systems of Industries

Nov 15, 2019

It is confirmed that South Korean Government cannot figure out the exact amount of electricity use at factories and plants that is obtained through solar power generation. Although industries have set up systems for renewable energy and are producing necessary electricity on their own, the exact amount of electricity use is not known.
According to Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) and Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO), it is shown that the exact amount of electricity that is generated through independent solar power generation is not known. Situation is also similar for the amount of electricity that is generated through solar power generation for regular households. “We can only estimate the amount of electricity generated through independent solar power generation based on the goal amount of renewable energy generation.” said a representative for MOTIE. “We will be able to make an estimation based on the result that Korea Power Exchange has received by verifying the amount of independent generation of 500 households.”
South Korean Government has focused on propagation of solar power generation by providing a subsidy for installation of independent solar panels separately from local government groups. As a result, the number of solar panel installations has easily exceeded South Korean Government’s goal in 2018 as well as 2019. There is a huge increase in the number of companies that generate and consume electricity on their own by installing solar power generation systems at idle locations such as roof of a plant. In case of Shinsung E&G, it generates 40% of electricity that is used for its plant in Yongin through its own generation.

Company’s 6MW solar panels installed on the roof of its plant <Company’s 6MW solar panels installed on the roof of its plant>

However, there are also side-effects as South Korean Government is not able to figure out the exact amount of solar power generation by industries. According to KEPCO’s ‘Electricity Statistics New Bulletin’, it had provided 23,469GWh electricity for industries in September which is 2.7% lower than the amount of electricity it had provided in September of last year. Actually, the amount of electricity it provides has shown a downward trend for 6 months in a row. Many have blamed economic slump that seems to lower the rate of plant operation.
However, the amount of electricity KEPCO provides for industries does not include the amount of electricity that is generated through independent solar power generation systems. For example, if a company that uses 1,000kWh electricity monthly generates 500kWh through its own solar power generation system, KEPCO has no choice but to see it as 50% reduction in amount of electricity use. Due to inaccurate estimation, there can be a setback to achieving ‘Renewable Energy 3020 Policy’. Some say that estimating demands for electricity can be even more difficult as the number of RE100 companies, which use electricity that is only generated through renewable energy, rises.
Only solution at the moment is for companies to provide the amount of electricity generated through their own independent solar power generation systems to South Korean Government. However, many companies feel that there are not many benefits for using more electricity generated through renewable energy and that there are not appropriate systems. “There is no system at the moment that can find out the exact amount of electricity generated through independent solar power generation systems of companies.” said a representative for KEPCO. “We have to discuss with the government and consider using different methods such as AMI (Advanced Metering Infrastructure).”
Staff Reporter Choi, Jaepil | jpchoi@etnews.com

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