Energy Consumption and Production in Seoul
Energy Consumption Pattern
As of 2012, 94.6% of Seoul’s energy came from the following three energy sources: oil (37.7%), LNG gas (30.8%), and electricity (26.1%). Seoul’s reliance on LNG gas has remained around 30% since 2000s while its electricity consumption increased from 21% in 2003 to 26% in 2012. At the same time, the proportion of renewable energy in the city’s energy mix jumped about three-fold from 2003 to 2012.
By sector, industry takes up the largest portion of the energy use in the nation whereas households, commercial, transport together take up the biggest portion (86.2%) in Seoul. The nationwide energy consumption of industry sector has been on the rise for the past 10 years while Seoul is showing an opposite direction.
Energy Production Pattern
In 2012, oil accounted for the largest portion of Seoul’s primary energy consumption, followed by LNG and renewable energy. The total consumption of primary energy peaked in 2007 and has since been declining slightly. Coal, in particular, has been showing a downward trend since its peak in 2006, and oil, too, is showing a similar trend. As of 2013, Seoul generated 1,946GWh of electricity in a year from its power production facilities located within Seoul, which are mainly thermal and renewable energy production plants. The production level, however, accounts for only 4.2% of its annual electricity consumption which stands at 46,555GWh.
Use of Renewable Energy
Since 2000, many more renewable energy facilities have been installed in Seoul. In particular, facilities for PV, fuel cell and geothermal saw a great expansion as well as those for heat generation from waste. Although expansion of facilities did lead to a 3-times increase in production of renewable energy, as of 2012 the green energy still contributed only 26% of the nation’s total energy consumption and a mere 1.5% of the city’s energy consumption. The figures suggest a clear need to expand the share of renewable energy.
Meanwhile, the share of photovoltaic (PV) generation dramatically soared from a mere 0.1% in 2003 to 2.5% in 2012. Yet, as of 2012, 92% of the total renewable energy production came from bio-energy and waste combined, taking up the biggest portion of the mix. However, with Seoul’s One Less Nuclear Power Plant initiative, PV’s role is expected to be greater in the future.
Introduction of the One Less Nuclear Power Plant Project
As of 2011, nuclear energy accounted for 31% (154,732GWh) of the country’s annual power generation (496,893GWh). Though nuclear energy is a safe and efficient source of energy, it incurs enormous human, environmental and economic costs once something goes wrong, as was seen in the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Therefore, there has been an increasing demand for a safe and sustainable energy source.
Meanwhile, Seoul’s power consumption accounts for 10% of the national total, yet its power self-sufficiency rate is a meager 3.0%. In addition, Seoul’s power demand has been continually rising to the extent that the increase is equivalent to the amount of energy generated by one nuclear power plant for an entire year.
To proactively respond to energy crisis and climate change, Seoul worked closely with citizens to set up a comprehensive energy plan, one that would be the basis of the city’s attempt to reduce energy use and generate more energy from renewable sources. As part of this plan, Seoul introduced the One Less Nuclear Power Plant initiative. The objectives include reducing the city’s energy demand by an amount that is equal to replacing the capacity of 1 nuclear power plant (1GW) by 2014. The longer-term objective is reaching 20% energy self-sufficiency by 2020.
Listening to Voices of Citizens and Experts
Seoul announced its One Less Nuclear Power Plant project on April 26, 2012 and laid out its ambitious goal of reducing 2 million TOE, equivalent to production capacity of 1 nuclear power plant, by 2014. To materialize this initiative, Seoul created a team dedicated for this project and amended relevant ordinances.
More specifically, Seoul first attracted investment from thr private sector to establish the production bases for PV generation in Seoul. The city government also amended institutions to encourage citizen participatory small-scale generators. This was complemented by Seoul’s efforts to provide small-scale PV technology that can be utilized by multiple-unit housings. At the same time, efforts were made to diversify energy mix to fuel cell and small-scale hydro power plant as well as PV.
Seoul also launched the Building Retrofit Project, or BRP, for building energy efficiency. To engage more citizens, Seoul provides long-term low-interest loans. In fact, the interest rate was lowered from 2.5% to 2.0% in January 2013, and was further cut to 1.75% in December 2013.
Another important part of the One Less Nuclear Power Plant initiative is LED replacement. With private sector investment, the city government replaced 430,000 traditional lightings in 243 subways stations in Seoul with eco-friendly LED lights. Lighting fixtures at other high energy-consuming places such as gyms and restaurants were also replaced with 4.97 million LED lamps.
Of all the programs and policies, the Eco Mileage Program proved most effective. The voluntary, citizen participatory energy-saving program was participated by 1.68 million by June 2014, saving 190,000 TOE. In addition, Seoul operates Nanumcar service, city’s car sharing service. With two electric vehicle companies’ taking part now, the service can provide as many as 1,070 cars ready for sharing by 150,000 members who would give up driving their own passenger cars for Nanumcar service. Other participatory programs include Energy Clinic service that gives green driving instructions to 10,000 citizens and Energy Guardian Angel Corps.
Policy Outcome and Evaluation
Thanks to its multifaceted and multilayered approach, the city government successfully reached its target of reducing 2 million TOE during the 2 years time from April 2012 to June 2014. As of 2013, Seoul’s energy consumption dropped by 1.4% whereas the nation’s energy demand increased by 1.7%. The One Less Nuclear Power Plant project is also meaningful in that it placed a huge focus on renewable energy and energy efficiency as evidenced by its BRP project.
Furthermore, the project merits recognition as it engages citizens, seeks public’s perception change, creates jobs in the energy sector and help Seoul strengthen its image as a truly green city on the world stage. In fact, On October 2012, Seoul hosted the headquarters of ICLEI and is slated to hold ICLEI World Congress in 2015 right here in Seoul.
Phase 2 of the Project : Energy Housekeeping City
In order to bring greater value and vision to the capital city of Korea, the SMG is launching Phase 2 of the program. For the more ambitious and far-reaching part of the program, Seoul made every effort to listen to public opinions from the very beginning of policy design. It organized several discussion sessions to listen to the opinions of the Committee composed of 48 people from academia, industry and civil society. It also heard through various channels such as the Seoul International Energy Advisory Council (SIEAC), social fiction, policy hearings and even online survey.
The slogan of the second phrase, “Energy Housekeeping City” suggests that Seoul needs to clearly identify its role and situation and base that information to create an energy self-sufficient city. The three core values include energy self-reliance, energy sharing and public participation.
20% Energy Self-Sufficiency by 2020
The main objective of the second phase is 20% energy self-reliance. To materialize the ambitious goal, Seoul will create a sustainable energy ecosystem with a virtuous cycle in which citizens produce energy themselves and consume the energy efficiently. To complement this, eighty-eight unit projects in the 4 policy categories will be implemented. Seoul firmly believes that with greater citizen participation to many of its projects and to the comprehensive 10 Key Actions Plan, together they can cut the city’s energy consumption and produce more energy from renewable, distributed sources. The changes, in turn, will boost Seoul’s energy self-sufficiency rate while reducing 10 million GHG emissions and saving 4 million TOE.
Decentralized Energy Generation
Seoul is committed to creating a city based on distributed energy, or decentralized energy in which everyone is involved in generating a clean and safe energy. In order to materialize the plan of making every citizen an energy consumer as well as energy producer, the SMG plans to supply a variety of small, grid-connected devices such as a balcony-hanging PV system (250W) that are easily installable on apartment balconies. 8,000 households in Seoul will be provided with the mini power generators this year, and a total of 40,000 households will be offered the similar systems, with each household saving about KRW 10,000 in electricity bills.
The SMG also plans to create the Civic Fund for PV Power Generation. The Fund allows citizens directly invest and earn profits from it. The annual fund that provides 4% return on investment is expected to be KRW 10 billion in size by 2018. In addition to the fund, Seoul now requires new buildings to generate energy and heat, amounting up to 20% of their energy consumption, from renewable sources and decentralized system.
Efficiency and Low Energy Consumption
In order for efficient and low energy consumption to become the norm in society, Seoul will target buildings, which account for 56% of Seoul’s total energy consumption. To this end, the city government offers customized consulting service for building energy performance and loans with 1.75% interest rate for costs required to insulate or enhance energy efficiency of buildings.
For large-sized, newly constructed buildings, Seoul will strengthen the current standard for the Environmental Impact Assessment. In addition, Seoul will enforce energy-saving technology and facilities for all buildings to achieve ‘zero energy’ by 2023. Seoul also plans to disclose information on building energy efficiency to be retrieved for people during sale/lease process, so that the value of energy efficiency can be reflected in the actual price of the building.
As for lightings, all 2.2 million lighting fixtures in public buildings street light and security lights in small alleys will be replaced with LED lamps while 65% of all private-owned buildings, or 290 million lightings, will be replaced with LED lamps.
Believing that energy saving is just as important as pursuing energy efficiency, Seoul is making every effort to engage citizens. The most representative of such program is a citizen participatory program called Eco Mileage. Seoul expects the membership to reach 2.8 million by 2018 through a variety of incentives.
Innovation and Energy Jobs
The SMG plans to great quality, sustainable jobs by promoting the energy industry and facilitating innovation. To this end, the SMG will support the public sector first by fostering ICT electricity technologies, including smart gird and Building Energy Management System (BEMS) favorable to large cities. In addition, the city government will support local energy service industry while facilitating start-ups, talent nurturing, and finding new market openings for those in the industry. In this regard, Seoul plans to run pilot green cluster proejcts in 2015 in Gasan and G-Valley in Guri, two of the most well known clusters for renewable energy. The number of pilot clusters will expand to 6 including Mapo and Nowon by 2018.
Seoul will also foster social enterprises and cooperatives in the field of green energy. An energy hub center will be built in each neighborhood to provide support for installation, monitoring and postal service, which in turn will provide more jobs for the society.
Seoul will expand its support to the energy poor, or those who disproportionately suffer from freezing winter and scorching summer. These people spend 4.7 times more on energy since they only have access to energy sources that are relatively high in price (LPG, Kerosene) but low in efficiency. Unfortunately, there has been very limited support for this group of people. To tackle this issue, Seoul will take an inclusive approach to protect every citizen when it comes to energy security.
First of all, Seoul will push institutional reform to ensure the protection of basic rights to energy use. For instance, Seoul will adopt a welfare charter and relevant ordinances while creating a welfare fund which is run and distributed by citizens themselves. Currently, Seoul is targeting at 100,000 participants to the fund, and the money will be profits gained from energy saving and energy generation (from PV, LED replacement, BRP) will be shared to the energy poop population.
Furthermore, to encourage continued and voluntary civic participation in energy generation, efficiency and saving, Seoul will focus on expanding local energy communities such as the Energy Independent Communities. The overall goal of Seoul’s energy policy is to create a virtuous cycle in which everyone practices energy savings in their everyday life and such lifestyle becomes entrenched in culture.