Construction starts on first ‘smart grid’ neighborhood
Ground broke yesterday on Korea’s first “smart grid” test bed, a major step in the country’s efforts to build a more efficient, less wasteful power network.
The smart grid test site, located on Jeju Island, is scheduled for completion in 2013, and will control electrical flow to 6,000 households in the nearby village of Gujwa-eup on an experimental basis, the Ministry of Knowledge Economy said yesterday.
A smart grid is an electrical system that uses information technology to maximize the efficiency of power distribution. It’s a significant step up from conventional electrical networks.
The government will spend a total of 116 billion won ($92.9 million) on the project, or 81.8 billion won more than previously planned.
According to the Knowledge Economy Ministry, 58 billion won will come from the government, with the remaining half to be covered by the private sector.
Once the grid is complete, the 6,000 residents will each have a smart gauge that will provide them with real-time information on the price of electricity, which fluctuates during different hours of the day, helping them use power more wisely.
The government also plans to build a “smart transportation network” where drivers can charge their vehicles and replace the batteries - essentially gas stations for electric cars.
The experimental smart grid will also provide renewable energy to other regions from sources such as wind turbines and solar panels.
“We’re planning to form a consortium after searching for partners from the private sector, since the nature of a smart grid requires the integration of different industries,” said Kim Jeong-gwan, deputy minister of energy and resources.
“The consortium will be open to foreign companies so that the world’s top technology can naturally enter the country and help turn Korea into the world’s center for smart grids.”
Some 200 officials, including Knowledge Economy Minister Lee Youn-ho and Jeju Governor Kim Tae-hwan, participated in the ground breaking ceremony.
By Lee Ho-jeong [firstname.lastname@example.org]