More red tape cut for president

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More red tape cut for president

The government decided to ease regulations to allow companies and even individuals to buy and sell electricity starting in July to revitalize the renewable energy market, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy announced Monday.

Under local law, the state-run Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kepco) has been the exclusive power distributor. Independent power generators may trade limited amounts of energy indirectly, by first selling power to Kepco.

Seven ministries reported to President Park Geun-hye on Monday the progress in finding new industrial growth engines at the CHA Bio Complex in Pangyo, Seongnam, Gyeonggi. The ministries included the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning and the Ministry of Health and Welfare.

“This year, the government should come up with [economic improvements] that everyone can feel by successfully completing the three-year economic innovation plan and rooting the concept of a creative economy [in the local economy],” President Park told the ministers.

Revised regulations will make it possible for any individual or company to generate electricity via a solar panel and an energy storage system at home or office buildings. They will be able to directly trade the power with neighbors or partner companies located in the same apartment complex or town.

In addition to helping households by allowing them to sell home-generated power to neighbors, the change allows corporations an additional profit source. It may foster new business models like electricity trading brokerages, which collect small amounts of power from individual clients and help sell them.

It’s part of the government’s strategy to test local energy management and trading technologies at home and possibly build them into a future export business.

In addition to expanding the energy market, the Energy Ministry unveiled support strategies for four growth-engine industries: next-generation automobiles like electric and driverless cars, drones, intelligent robots and wearable devices.

“Since Korea has lagged behind in fostering new industries in the past few years, we decided to shift our strategy to concentrate on assisting projects selected by the private sector, abandoning the state-led assistance system,” Kang Seong-cheon, director general of industrial policy at the Energy Ministry, explained at a press conference held in Sejong last Friday.

To foster the electric vehicle industry, the government aims to prepare legal grounds by the end of this year to enable electric-vehicle charging-station operators to directly purchase from a power exchange instead of being supplied by Kepco. It will inject 27 billion won ($22.3 million) to develop cameras, sensors and software used in driverless cars, and make a test drive center in Daegu into the nation’s main testing center by 2017.

To accelerate development of commercial drones, the Energy Ministry will inject 1.5 billion won to test-operate a drone delivery system this year by cooperating with Korea Post and a Kepco drone surveillance system. This year, the ministry chose an airstrip at the Korea Aerospace Research Institute’s Goheung Center in South Jeolla to be used to test drones by 2019.

The ministry will inject some 10 billion won in developing technology to be used in hospitals and factories that produce delicate goods, including electronic devices and food and beverages, and set aside another 127.2 billion won over the next five years to localize materials and parts used for smart clothes.

The Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning reported that it will open job-search offices at the nation’s 17 Centers for Creative Economy and Innovation (CCEI) by March. Colleges based in the regions and conglomerates in charge of each CCEI will help young people find jobs and get training.

After the government last year tried developing Pangyo into Korea’s version of Silicon Valley, the Science Ministry said it plans to make Digital Media City in Sangam-dong, southwestern Seoul, into a mecca of digital cultural content where start-ups in virtual reality, artificial intelligence and hologram technologies work with content creators.

BY KIM JI-YOON [kim.jiyoon@joongang.co.kr]

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