Seoul to stop subsidizing small apartment solar panelsThe Seoul Metropolitan Government said Wednesday that it will suspend subsidies for the small personal solar panels installed on the railings outside apartments from next year.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government has been financially supporting the installation of mini solar panels that can be installed on the railings outside apartments since 2014, with a generating capacity of around 325 watt and an installation cost of about 500,000 won ($422). Its support for installation of large solar panels on rooftops dates to 2004.
The city has paid 76 percent of installation costs, with district offices offering an additional 10 percent, allowing individuals to pay only 14 percent of the total cost — 70,000 won.
Due to the suspension of the Seoul city subsidy from next year, the cost of installing small solar panels is likely to be over 450,000 won. As a result, installations are expected to decrease significantly.
The city’s decision to suspend the subsidy provision came about a month after Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon announced plans to review the project on his YouTube channel, questioning how easily subsidies were distributed in the solar panel project.
The steady decrease of demand for the small solar panels — the installation of which blocks the lower part of users' windows — and suspension of subsidies in other cities and provinces following a decrease in government funding since 2019 has also attributed to the decision, the Seoul Metropolitan Government said.
According to the Seoul government, a total of 53.6 billion won, or 33 percent of the city's total solar panel installation budget, has been spent subsidizing the installation of the small solar panels since 2014, but the ratio of generating capacity stood only at 12.2 percent, raising criticism that it costs more than it produces.
In addition, 14 out of 68 companies that participated in the project from 2014 to this year were found to have shut down within three years of receiving subsidized payment for small solar panels. The city last month asked the police to investigate the situation surrounding those closures.
Depending on the result of the Seoul Metropolitan Government’s ongoing audit of the solar panel project, other solar panel supply programs in the city could also be suspended or changed.
“We are reviewing the overall business,” an official of the Seoul Metropolitan government said. “We will consider the results of the upcoming audit.”
BY SEO JI-EUN [firstname.lastname@example.org]
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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