Heat is on and blackouts are possibleKorea is running out of electricity as daily energy consumption spiked seven times in July alone, according to the Knowledge Economy Ministry and the Korea Power Exchange yesterday.
Korea’s energy consumption reached an all-time summer high last Thursday afternoon when 6,762.9 kilowatts were used, outpacing last summer’s record of 6,321.2 kilowatts.
The all-time daily high for power consumption, 6,896.3 kilowatts, was recorded last Jan. 13, and the ministry expects that figure to be outpaced soon as the sultry weather continues.
Korea has now entered the risky stage of possibly requiring blackouts this summer, a ministry official said. “August tends to be the month with the highest demand of air-conditioning,” he said.
The heat wave has continued since July 18, and in some areas the mercury didn’t drop below 25 degrees Celsius, bringing the country unaccustomed tropical nights. In fact, from July 1 to July 20, electricity demand surged 9.3 percent year-on-year, mainly boosted by a rise in industrial use led by the economic recovery. Industrial energy demand has been recording double-digit increases from the previous year since November.
The ministry is keeping a close eye on consumption as it expects this summer’s energy consumption to reach 70.7 million kilowatts in total, which is an 11.8 percent increase from last year. Total supply, however, is 75.3 million kilowatts, which is only a 3.7 percent on-year increase.
Meanwhile, industrialist are complaining that Korea’s relatively low electricity charges for consumers is contributing to the energy shortage. Knowledge Economy Minister Choi Kyung-hwan told reporters recently that “electricity prices will inevitably have to increase” though he said he didn’t want to burden low-income households.
By Lee Eun-joo [firstname.lastname@example.org]