|Mini solar panels are installed along a street in Munjeong-dong, Songpa-gu, southeastern Seoul. / Courtesy of Seoul Metropolitan Government|
Capital plans to generate 1GW of energy from residential solar system by 2022
By Kang Seung-woo
In the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster of March 2011, the Seoul Metropolitan Government has its sights on promoting a safe and sustainable energy production and saving system.
The two-stage "One Less Nuclear Power Plant" initiative was launched in 2012 to reduce energy consumption and increase renewable energy production to compensate for one nuclear power plant.
Through its first phase from April 2012 to June 2014, the city government successfully eliminated 2 million tons of oil equivalent (TOE), equivalent to the production capacity of one nuclear power plant.
The second part is underway with a goal of reducing 4 million TOE, an amount of energy corresponding to the power generation of two nuclear power plants, improving energy self-sufficiency to 20 percent and cutting 10 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.
As part of Seoul's efforts to achieve its master plan, the local government came up with the 2022 Solar City Plan, in November 2017, under which it is seeking to increase the residential solar power sector by adding 1 GW of capacity by 2022.
The city expects to cut 540,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually and generate enough energy to power 310,000 households, or 9 percent of the total in Seoul.
To this end, the city government plans to help 1 million households install miniature photovoltaic (PV) panels at 540,000 apartment balconies, 90,000 rental homes and 370,000 buildings.
|A large number of solar panels are installed near Seodaemun-gu office. / Courtesy of Seoul Metropolitan Government|
According to Seoul City, a total of 161,000 households have installed the PV facilities, including 59,000 this year alone, thereby collectively generating 209.6 megawatts as of September.
In order to encourage households to adopt more solar panels, it has offered a variety of support options such as expanding suppliers, providing subsidies and mandating the installation of solar panels at new multiple-unit dwellings built by Seoul Housing and Communities Corp.
In particular, the installation subsidy program is receiving rave reviews from citizens, the city government said.
The city government has also strived to expand the citywide deployment of solar energy, making use of public buildings and land to install as many solar panels as possible.
"We are promoting setting up solar panels at every public facility in the capital where panels can be installed, including schools, district offices and the city government itself," a city official said.
Currently, 127 public buildings generate a capacity of 3.8 megawatts, 17 infrastructures, 3.8 megawatts, 43 schools, 1.8 megawatts and public parking lots, 12 megawatts.
By the target year, it hopes that solar panels will generate a total of 243 megawatts.
Solar power landmarks
In order to spread the concept that Seoul is a solar city, the city government plans to create solar energy landmarks or solar energy special districts in order to use them as tourist attractions as is the case in Freiburg, Germany.
It is scheduled to remake Gwanghwamun Square as a solar street in January 2020, equipping its lights, benches and trash cans with solar panels, while World Cup Park and Jamsil Hangang Park will turn into a solar square and a solar road, respectively.
It will transform Magok, a western Seoul neighborhood, into a smart energy area by shifting an urban energy paradigm in cooperation with Korea's major energy companies.
The smart energy district is a new urban development model that uses advanced information and communication technology to increase the use of eco-friendly energies and once completed, it is expected to achieve 30 percent of power self-sufficiency rate by 2022 and reduce 180,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year.