General Electric (GE), a global company headquartered in the United States, will participate in the Energy Valley Project of Bitgaram Innovation City in Gwangju of South Jeolla Province, South Korea as an investment partner of KEPCO. GE is a world leader in heavy industries such as power generation equipment, medical equipment, solar and wind power generation. GE’s participation is expected to have a significant impact on the future of KEPCO which is seeking to change itself in the era of the fourth industrial revolution.
The two companies will hold an investment signing ceremony on Feb. 25 to start full-scale investment attraction activities. They temporarily confirmed the name of the investment project as "GK4" by combining "G" of GE, "K" of KEPCO and "4" of the fourth industrial revolution.
"We will hold an investment partnership signing ceremony in Energy Valley on May 25, and open an office," said a senior official of KEPCO on May 18. “KEPCO president Cho Hwan-ik and Jeff Immelt, chairman of GE, will attend the ceremony. In the ceremony, specific investment directions will be presented.”
The project to be jointly pushed forward with by KEPCO and GE in Bitgaram Energy Valley is the construction of infrastructure for high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission system. HVDC is a method of supplying electric power after turning high-voltage AC power from a power plant into DC power with a power converter and changing the DC power into AC power at a point to receive it.
According to KEPCO, the world HVDC market is expected to grow from about US$6 billion at the present to US$15 billion by 2026. Once KEPCO and GE work together, KEPCO will be able to digitize HVDC-related equipment so that the Korean electric power supplier will not need to import it anymore.
In addition, KEPCO is planning to build infrastructure for a digital grid for power and information convergence and data analysis. Its investment directions also include the use of Bitgaram Energy Valley as a test bed for the HVDC project.
A test bed refers to an environment, system, equipment, or place where they can test the performance and effectiveness of new technologies, products, and services. KEPCO also has a blueprint for KEPCO to induce other energy companies’ investment in Energy Valley based on GE’s investments in the valley.
"It is anticipated that our partnership with GE will build an HVDC convergence cluster which will catapult Korea to the center of the world HVDC industry such as the attraction of Korean and foreign HDVC-related companies and the creation of jobs," a KEPCO official said.