J eju Special Self-Governing Province plans to become carbon-neutral and sustainable through the utilization of renewable energy. The average annual increase of Jeju’s seawater temperature is about 1.5 times higher than the global seawater temperature increase, and the rise in sea level is three times greater than the global average. To tackle the problems arising from climate change, the island is implementing the “Carbon Free Island Jeju by 2030” initiative by establishing a smart grid demonstration complex, increasing the use of renewable energy and reinforcing the supply of electric vehicles (EVs). Jeju plans to become a leading city of electric vehicles by replacing 377,000 commercial vehicles with EVs by 2030. The island also aims to replace 50 percent of fossil fuel generated electricity with renewable energy by 2020 and 100 percent by 2030.
Jeju was selected as a project area for renewable energy by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE). Through the project, three-kilowatt photovoltaic (PV) solar panels will be installed in 152 houses in the Aewol-eup area. Public facilities including the town center will also have three to 20-kilowatt solar panels installed. Once the project is complete, the power generation system will reduce electricity bills by at least KRW 160 million. In Gonae-ri, 126 out of 567 households have already installed solar panels as part of the town project carried out in 2013. Thanks to the project, the town’s current energy self-sufficiency rate is at 32.7 percent.
The first commercial wind power plant was opened in the southern part of Jeju in November 2017. The state-run Korea South-East Power Co. said the 30-megawatt complex is composed of 10 wind power turbines. The utilization rate until the end of June this year was 34 percent, and is expected to remain higher than the planned rate of 29 percent. The Tamra wind farm has been giving KRW 450 million back to the towns of Dumo-ri and Geumdeung-ri every year, and is contributing to revitalizing the regional economy by donating a development fund of KRW 3 billion. The offshore wind farm is capable of generating 85,000 megawatts of electricity annually, which is enough to provide power to up to 24,000 households on the island.
As part of the Carbon Free Island Initiative, electric vehicles can be commonly seen around Jeju. According to the Jeju Electric Vehicle Policy Research Center (EVRC), as of November 2017, the number of registered EVs stands at 8,796, which accounts for 2.38 percent of the total number of registered cars. The island has 6,949 EV recharging stations. The initiative aims to make 371,000 electric cars and 225,000 rechargers available throughout the island by 2030.
Currently, more than half of Korea’s electric vehicles are used on Jeju Island. An EV was used during the first torch relay in Jeju for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games. Participants of the performance all stepped on a charging pad which converted kinetic energy into electrical energy. The electrical energy generated during the performance recharged the torchbearer’s EV.
Meanwhile, electric vehicles are not the only method of transportation the island plans to promote. Through a civilian supply project, the island will support the purchase of 1,096 electric motorcycles this year. This electric motorcycle can be driven for a distance of 40 kilometers on a single charge, and can be recharged at home. Any residence or company in Jeju can apply for financial support if they choose to buy a new electric motorcycle after getting rid of their previous motorcycle with an internal combustion engine. The self-governing province is expecting that electric motorcycles will develop into a useful and eco-friendly form of transportation thanks to its economic feasibility and practical value. Furthermore, it can be utilized by a variety of people including commuters and delivery drivers.
Jeju’s efforts are not confined to supplying EVs across the island. The island is also looking to build the first EV battery recycling center in Korea. It plans to complete construction of the center by December 2018, have relevant equipment and personnel ready by December 2019, and start operating the center from 2020. Once operation begins, it can secure the infrastructure and technology related to EV batteries and establish a resource cyclical system, in which the batteries are reused as an energy storage device according to their capacity and condition. During an interview with Yonhap News, an official said that Jeju would strive to identify EV-related industries and develop new businesses, emphasizing that the island is the perfect test-bed with a sophisticated infrastructure for renewable energy such as wind and solar power.
Sources: Jeju Research Institute; Yonhap News; Newsis