Power use rises in some industries and on farms
The increase may be a sign that Korean factories are cranking up production to deal with rising demand. In fact, industrial output, which contracted for the second straight month in April, rose 4.8 percent year-on-year in May and grew 1.7 percent from the previous month, according to Ministry of Strategy and Finance earlier this month.
“We can’t say for sure that the industrial sector’s performance is improved but some other government data suggests that output is actually going up, and we do believe this might be one of the factors behind industrial electricity consumption rising in the second quarter,” said Kim Sung-yeol, a director at the trade ministry.
Industrial power consumption accounted for 58.9 percent of total consumption, and the Trade Ministry said it increased mainly in the semiconductor and oil refining industries in the second quarter. The year-on-year growth rate for industrial use reaching more than 1.4 percent is the first time since the fourth quarter of 2014.
Power use by semiconductor manufacturers rose 14.8 percent compared to a year ago and the figure for refineries was 10.6 percent during the same period.
Total electricity consumption in the second quarter also rose 1.5 percent year-on-year and the Trade Ministry cited hotter temperatures and a rise in private consumption generally as major reasons for the increase.
“The data showed that total credit card use continued to increase from April to June and the average temperature also was hotter this year compared to the previous year,” said Kim at the Trade Ministry.
In fact, credit card use rose 7.2 percent year-on-year in April and it rose 22.7 percent in May. The figure grew by 12.9 percent in June.
Furthermore, the average temperature for the second quarter of last year was 17.7 degrees Celsius (63.86 degrees Fahrenheit), but it rose to 18.2 degrees Celsius this year.
Electricity consumption for agricultural use has continued to grow for the past 10 years and increased by 1.7 percent in the second quarter compared to a year earlier.
The Trade Ministry said more people have built electric power facilities on their farms compared to the past.
The total number of farms that used a dedicated electric power facility rose from 1.52 million in the second quarter of last year to 1.6 million this year, or by 4.8 percent.
People in Gyeonggi consumed the largest amount of energy in the second quarter, followed by Gyeongsang and Chungcheong. Gyeonggi used 21.5 percent of the total and Gyeongsang consumed 16.6 percent.
The ministry said consumption was high in these regions as there are many industrial complexes and more people residing there in general.
The southeastern city of Ulsan’s electricity rose by the most at 5.9 percent year-on-year, followed by the southern island of Jeju at 4.2 percent. The Trade Ministry, however, said that they do not have specific reasons for the rises in these regions.
Electricity consumption for educational use also rose 1.7 percent year-on-year in the second quarter of this year as demand and the number of schools increased.
Meanwhile, Korea’s daily electricity consumption for this summer reached more than 80 million kilowatts for the first time due to the high temperature and high demands for power.
Daily electricity consumption for summer peaked last summer at 76.9 million kilowatts. That record was broken three times this year starting on July 11. On Monday, consumption reached 81.1 million kilowatts and broke the all-time record for summer once again.
The Trade Ministry blamed hot temperatures during the day and also the tropical night phenomenon throughout this week. A night is dubbed tropical if the temperature remains above 25 degrees Celsius throughout the night.
The government announced earlier this week that it will try to prevent power outages and that it can generate 92.1 million kilowatts. The Trade Ministry added that it will try to have the reserve power volume to be around at 10 million kilowatts this summer.
BY KIM YOUNG-NAM [email@example.com]
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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