South Korea’s innovative vision for their smart grids

Seoul at night

South Korea's smart grid roadmap is an impressive and thorough rethinking of how the industry has managed electrification for over 100 years

The energy sector is in a continual state of transformation, particularly with the many changes occurring with the power generation mix and energy roadmaps. While Germany is particularly known for strongly pushing renewables, other countries are also working very strategically on the deployment of innovative technologies. A good case in point is South Korea, a country with 50 million inhabitants that has managed to become a hub of innovation and experimentation.

I believe smart grids can have different meanings to different countries depending on their purposes and their economical, technical and regulatory framework. An article published by The Guardian earlier this year stated that South Koreans are leading the way in smart grid thinking by completely rethinking the electricity grid to make it applicable for the 21st century. My sense is that in South Korea smart grids are a platform in which smart technologies, renewable energy and energy management technologies have strong substance and will play a crucial role in the years to come.

I was recently in Jeju, South Korea attending CEPSI 2014, the largest meeting of energy sector executives in Asia. The conference celebrated its 20th anniversary this year and was held in Korea for the first time. Close to 2,000 CEOs, directors and engineers from 35 Asia-Pacific power companies gathered to discuss the responsibilities of power generators in a future era of renewable energy, smart grids and climate change.

From my discussions with other executives and experts at the conference I can confirm that South Korea not only has a clear vision on smart grids but has taken action in implementing innovative technologies. Above all South Koreans are carefully looking at best practices from other regions.

South Korea’s smart grid roadmap is based on five implementation areas: smart power grid, smart consumer, smart transport, smart renewables and smart electricity service. It was launched by government agencies and several of South Korea’s leading business conglomerates. The goals have been clearly defined and established to build a smart grid test-bed (2010-2012), to build a smart grid across metropolitan areas by 2020 and to build a nationwide smart grid by 2030 in order to pave the way for low-carbon, green growth.

Their roadmap is an impressive example of a thorough rethinking of what we have become used to in more than 100 years of electrification, and reflects a dedicated and highly capable network of industrial players that want to turn the vision into reality. Clearly other groups around the world are also intensively working on different parts of this transformation, ensuring that development on a global scale is happening very fast. Therefore I believe that while observing what is happening elsewhere in the world is important for further development, entering into international partnerships will further accelerate the learning and transformation.

While evolving rapidly, it is important to note that the drivers of the smart grid market growth in Asia are characterized by the specific needs of their utilities and existing grids. The drivers are slightly different than those in traditional developed markets in North America and Europe, but the technologies will eventually be the same. This and other aspects of the energy and power sector in Asian economies, particularly in China, will be addressed in “ABB Power World 2014” to be held in Beijing, China, November 25-27.

I hope you can join us and look forward to continuing the discussion in Beijing!

Source: KSGI Korea Smart grid Institute

Image credit: Charles Lam under cc license via Flickr, cropped

Categories and Tags
About the author

Jochen Kreusel

I lead the Industry Segment Initiative "Smart Grids" in ABB and I am a member of the Steering Committee of the European Technology Platform for Electricity Networks of the Future – short ETP Smart Grids. From 2008 to 2013, I was Chairman of the Power Engineering Society of VDE. Furthermore, I am an honorary professor at the RWTH Aachen and one of the four Vice presidents of T&D Europe, the European Association of the Electricity Transmission and Distribution Equipment and Services Industry, in charge of Energy Policy and chair of T&D Europe’s Energy Policy Working Group.
Comment on this article