‘Solar City Seoul,’ the future of solar energy in S. Korea

Renewable energy. Looked to as the future, as it brings both
environmental and economic benefits. South Korea is also jumping on board, with
Seoul declaring itself a future solar city. For our news features tonight… Lee Jeong-yeon dives into what that industry
might look like for the country in the future. Here's something not many people in Seoul
have seen. Mini solar panels hanging outside apartment
balconies. This residential area is a new energy-powered
village with around 200 households producing solar energy. (Korean)
"I paid around 90 U.S. dollars, one-sixth of the cost. The rest was funded by the government. I've always been interested in renewable energy
so I'm glad to take part." This one mini solar panel can produce around
300 watts of electricity, which is enough to run a refrigerator. It can cut electricity bills by between five
and eight U.S. dollars a month. This area shows what the city government is
trying to achieve with its "Solar City Seoul" plan. So what prompted such a project? (Korean)-
"Fossil fuels are causing huge climate change. So we're turning to renewable energy.

Seoul's initiative is projected to produce
one gigawatt of power by 2022, the equivalent of one nuclear power plant." The city's goal is to get 1-million households
to install mini solar panels and to increase the city's solar energy reliance to 3-percent.15-billion
won, or 14-million U.S. dollars will be invested into solar energy over the next five years,
and public facilities such as streetlights will be solar powered. If this goal is accomplished, it will slash
greenhouse gas emissions by about 540-thousand tons, the equivalent of planting 8-thousand
pine trees. But on top of environmental effects, there
are also economic benefits. (Korean)
"Expanding the solar energy industry will create more jobs. Also, the city will rely less on outside sources
for energy, and keep the money flowing within the region." Because Seoul is a land-locked region that
limits the use of other types of renewable energy, solar energy is its best option.

And there's a part of Seoul that's been using
it for the last five years. (stand-up)
Here in Gangdong-gu district is a village that's already making active use of solar
energy. Most households here produce and consume their
own electricity. Sipjaseong Village is a model energy-powered
village in Seoul. It was established in 1974 by Vietnam War
veterans. A total of around 50 households in the village
use solar panels, producing 45-percent of the village's total energy demand. (Korean)
"When the Fukushima nuclear disaster happened it made us more aware of the need for renewable
energy, so we have taken part in this solar energy project since 2012." But not all residents were open to the idea
from the start. (Korean)
"I actually didn't want to participate because I didn't know much about it. But now that we are involved, it's amazing. I don't know why the government didn't do
this earlier." The most obvious benefit: lower electricity
bills.

2190 , . 8-9 4000
"It usually costs around two dollars a month, four dollars at the most when I use air-conditioning
in summer." Renewable energy is relatively new to Korea,
but there are some places around the world that are already exploring its full potential. The Danish island of Samso has been producing
more energy than it consumes for the past decade. (English )
"We are more than 100-percent self-supplied and we have reduced the CO2 emission. We are carbon negative. We actually have an emission of -3.7 tons
per capita, which seen from a global perspective is very good." One way to boost production is to increase
citizen involvement.

(Korean)
"60% of Seoul residents live in apartments. So citizens can form co-operatives to invest
in solar panels and share the earnings." But at the heart of citizen participation
is awareness, and that's what some say is a priority. (English )
"From being interested to actually investing money into a project is a long way to go because
it takes a lot of convincing for people to invest their savings into new technology they
don't know about. So information and education is really key
to the process of change." (Korean)
"The most effective way is to increase tax on electricity, which will make people more
aware of how much they're using." In reality, South Koreans only pay the standard
value-added tax amount of 10-percent for electricity. This is in stark contrast to Denmark with
59-percent tax, and Germany with 51 percent. As the Korean saying goes, "we only see as
much as we know."… So many experts say the most important task
is to educate the public and get them involved.

And after that, everything else will follow
suit. Lee Jeong-yeon, Arirang News.

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