Although known as a popular
tourist destination, Jeju Island
is quickly becoming the forefront
of Korea's information
and communication technology (ICT)
industry to combat a pressing national
agenda: climate change.
In 2009, South Korea named smart grid a national priority, designating Jeju Island as a testbed for the national smart grid project. Thanks to its sunny and windy climate, the island is an ideal location for renewable energy technology. The following year, the country announced the National Smart Grid Roadmap, and in 2011, enacted the smart grid support laws for the first time in the world.
Smart grids refer to electric power networks that use the latest ICT to provide high-quality, efficient energy for green growth via grid monitoring, digital power transmission and digitally operated power distribution systems. This includes the introduction of smart meters, in-home displays, electric vehicle-charging infrastructure, wind turbines and photovoltaic equipment.
The backbone of the project depends on the communication system underlying power transmission. Mobile technology is used to deliver smart grid solutions, and home devices like smart meters and smart boxes (portals connected to a wide area network (WAN) to control all household appliances) have been installed in about 6,000 homes on the island. Here are some areas in Jeju that are spearheading the smart grid movement.
Gujwa-eup, a town consisting of 12 small farm villages, is the center of the Jeju Smart Grid project. 6,000 homes in the areas were designated as part of the project. The most conspicuous aspect of this rural town is the fact that some of Korea's biggest companies are
based there. Smart grid project operators are based in this town, with POSCO (formerly Pohang Iron and Steel Company), Hyundai, SK E&C in the west, KEPCO (Korea Electric Power Corporation) in the center and GS, KT and LG Electronics in the east. Electricity charging stations, instead of the conventional gas stations, have also been built to supply energy for plug-in electric vehicles. The Smart Grid Information Center is also located at Gujwa-eup. The five exhibit booth center explains and promotes the smart grid project through panoramic relief models and LED flow charts of the smart power grid, renewable energy, smart transportation, nuclear power plants and smart places.
Located off the southwestern tip of
Jeju, Gapa Island is home to less than 300
people and famously scenic barley fields.
One thing it doesn't have is fossil-fueled
cars. An extended target of the smart grid
project, Gapa Island is striving to become
the nation's first completely carbon free,
energy independent and environmentally
protected area. So far, electric motorcycles,
bicycles and cars have taken over as
modes of transportation.
Initially, the area received KRW 99 billion (USD 88.6 million) from KEPCO, KOSPO, Woojin Industrial Systems and Shin-Kobe Electric Machinery. As the project gained momentum, Gapa
received an additional KRW 1.4 billion
(USD 1.25 million) in funding from the Seoul government
for a 1,000 KWh lithium-ion
Samsung SDI battery and a Hyosung
1,000 KW power converter. Agricultural
machinery and fishing boats are also
under process of electrification and electricity
fuel infrastructure is under construction.
In addition to the two wind power generators installed in 2012, solar generators have been connected to the smart meter and smart system for real-time billing.
The success of the development of the innovative, large-scale project in Jeju has helped South Korea take a leap ahead in the commercialization of ICT. KT already deployed its Smart Grid Network Operating Centre (NOC) technology in Finland and Uzbekistan and developed pre-commercial services for 50 homes in Bahrain. This year, LG Electronics also introduced smart home appliances based on grid technology. SKT is also planning to expand into the overseas markets for smart grid-related ICT.
Furthermore, with Jeju expanding its commitment to green energy and ambition to be completely carbon-free by 2030, the Jeju Smart Grid project is definitely one that investors need to be on the lookout for.