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Energy Conservation Found Lacking in Korea

Posted March. 19, 2008 03:02,   


Greenhouse gas emissions and global warming stemming from reckless energy consumption have made the world ill. Skyrocketing oil prices have also burdened households.

Nevertheless, finding a role model in the country who has cut energy consumption is far from easy. The government and public institutions have done little to curb excessive energy use.

Koreans are being urged to drive smaller cars using less fuel, but few small cars are found in the parking lot of the government complex in Gwacheon, south of Seoul.

In December last year, the domestic NGO Energy Network conducted a survey of indoor temperatures at public places in the Seoul metropolitan area. The study found that only 65 places (24.8 percent) out of 262 government agencies, discount and department stores, banks, fast-food restaurants and movie theaters set the temperature between 18-20 degrees Celsius, the optimal range for winter. In other public places, room temperatures exceeded that range.

In Tokyo, city gas consumption in winter is quadruple that in summer. Koreans, however, spent 14 times more on heating bills in January this year than they did in August last year, according to Inha University professor Park Hee-cheon.

“In Europe and Japan, they set room temperature around 20 degrees Celsius in winter,” Park said. “But Koreans think a home temperature of 25 degrees is too cold.”

In a briefing session given by the Knowledge Economy Ministry, President Lee Myung-bak said, “Despite living in a nation which cannot produce a single drop of oil, Koreans seriously lack the mindset to cut energy consumption. They need to do so and the government needs to provide systematic and structural support to encourage less consumption of energy.”

Fortunately, there are a few promising examples of energy conservation in the country.

After deciding to install a new heating system, 1,140 households of an apartment complex in southern Seoul chose steam turbine generators. By doing so, they can reduce energy consumption worth up to 1.2 billion won per year.

They are expected to pay far less for electricity and city gas from next year, when they can redeem 3.4 billion won in installation charges that had been initially paid for by a state energy fund.

Another good example is the chief of Hongseong County, Lee Jong-geon. He has walked to work every day after taking office.