No more glass-walled buildings

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No more glass-walled buildings

An unprecedented early heat wave is raising concerns of an electricity crisis. The Ministry of Knowledge Economy, anticipating electricity reserves to reach 4.2 million kilowatts this summer, which translates into a reserve margin of 5.6 percent, has launched an emergency action team.

The Unit 1 and Unit 2 reactors in the Shin Gori nuclear power complex went into operation early this year, but the extra supply likely won’t be sufficient to meet the surge in demand if the heat continues. New facilities increased supply capacity by 4.63 million kilowatts, but will likely be sapped by a projected demand of 4.88 million kilowatts.

Electricity for air conditioners and fans takes up one-fourth of all summertime power consumption. And this segment has been growing ever year. We may face rolling brownouts if the heat continues or glitches occur in the national power grid.

Electrical supply could be a problem until next year, when three new reactors come online - the Shin Gori Unit 3 reactor and Wolseong’s Unit 1 and 2 reactors. If two additional thermoelectric power plants come online in the Yeongheung complex in 2014, the country’s reserve margin - the amount of unused available capability - is expected to rise to a comfortable 13.9 percent.

We must be efficient with our electricity use for the next two years. Setting a limit on air conditioning and even rolling brownouts during peak times could be implemented this summer, particularly for areas that are home to large industrial factories.

Japan is struggling with a dire electrical shortage after nuclear facilities were crippled by a massive earthquake. The Japanese population has been shouldering the burden to save electricity. As a result, demand for electricity fell 6.5 percent last month from the same period a year earlier. Household consumption also dropped as much as 7 percent, suggesting how the Japanese have united to address the post-war power crisis.

Despite the power crisis in Japan, Korea remains carefree in its energy use. Local governments have been renovating municipal buildings with expensive heat-absorbing glass walls. These glass-walled buildings are peppered everywhere. But the buildings consume seven times more energy than concrete buildings. Without any consideration for energy, no matter how many more reactors are built, we will never be free from supply concerns.

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