South Korea is Stepping Up Its Renewable Energy Game with Smart Grids


Smart grids facilitate and improve the power production and distribution process by monitoring and controlling power flow from the point of generation to consumption. This enhances predictability, visibility, and efficient management of production and demand, and brings flexibility to the entire power system. Smart grids also help with peak load management, and make integration of renewable sources easier and more cost effective.

It’s not hard to see why smart grids are gaining popularity worldwide. But one area where they are seeing particularly high adoption is South Korea, which is expecting growth at a CAGR of 20.54% from 2014-2019 in its smart grid market.

Aging power infrastructure in the country, coupled with high power demand and a pressing need to ditch non-renewable in favor of renewable energy is creating the perfect conditions for smart grids to really take off in South Korea.

Technavio analysts have pared down the key factors driving growth in the smart grid equipment market in South Korea.

Need for Energy-efficient Solutions and Management

The limited availability of natural resources, such as coal, oil, and natural gas in South Korea, makes it imperative for the country to improve its energy efficiency to manage growing energy demand. Smart grids enable efficient and more intelligent management of energy by converging technologies with existing systems, and by active peak load management.

Smart grids also facilitate the implementation of efficient and reliable end-to-end bi-directional energy systems by integrating renewables with distributed energy sources. They ensure sustainability and energy efficiency through various management and demand-response systems.

This also facilitates efficient demand-response, demand-side management, outage management, power quality management, and provisions for smart home energy systems. These grids help utilities to provide resilient and efficient energy systems, and various tariff structures to end-users.

Dependence on Energy Imports

South Korea is the world’s ninth largest energy consumer, and its demand for energy is increasing yearly, fuelled by the growing economy and rising GDP. To support this energy demand, the country imports raw materials, such coal and fuel gas, for its thermal power plants from neighboring countries like Indonesia and Australia. In 2013, it was the second largest importer of natural gas, globally.

South Korea is also working to increase power generation from renewable resources and upgrade existing power grids to smart grids, to boost the efficiency of renewable energy integration, and reduce energy consumption and GHG emissions.

Focus on Renewable Energy Sources

To decrease dependence on imported raw materials, and help mitigate the related costs, South Korea is planning to increase the share of renewable energy in its overall power generation matrix. Overall, the country is aiming to boost its renewable energy supplies to 11% of the country’s total primary energy supply by 2020.

Smart grids are required to ensure reliability and stability of the power system, along with an increased share of renewable energy and fast-paced growth. The evolution of smart grids has paved the way for integrating renewable energy, even when these sources are remotely located, through the extensive use of advanced communication and information technologies.

Reduced Human Intervention in System Operations

Smart grid applications improve system reliability as these applications reduce the human component of the man-machine interface and other dynamic, interactive factors that affect the reliability and safety of smart grid systems. AMR in smart grid applications can considerably reduce recording and other errors, generally known as “curbstone readings” or “shade tree readings”, which lead to power losses. The use of AMI in smart grids provides a better user interface and improves the overall monitoring of energy usage.