The Korean government implemented a roadmap and legal framework for establishing the world’s first national SmartGrid network. This has led to building the world’s biggest SmartGrid Testbed, a cluster of infrastructure and labs, on Jeju island. 168 corporations from various industries including electricity, ICT, energy, along with 12 consortia have participated in the development, contributing to various data tests that explored different types of business models.
KEPCO developed several commercialization models and test schemes by pursuing five major areas, namely SmartGrids, Consumer Services, Transmission and Distributions, New Renewable Powers, and a Power Service Charter.
Some of the major achievements of the validation project include the utilization of intelligence-based electricity metering, or advanced metering infrastructure (AMI), which has enabled the knowledge-based reading of general customer energy usage patterns and demand reactions.
Furthermore, a network-utilizing intelligence-based system has led to the reduction of malfunctions and more effective operation of the electricity grid. Thus, with its highly sophisticated application of technologies such as a quality check system and monitoring malfunctions resulting from bidirectional operation, coupled with the further expansion of electricity generation, the new system plays a critical role in helping to stabilize the nation’s power grid. In addition, the standardization of infrastructure for power charging, the mass power storage device and microgrid, all of which are commercially viable, has been actively pursued, resulting in several new business models.
The SmartGrid can only be fully utilized when the infrastructure is all in place. Therefore, the seamless supply and sustained expansion of the advanced metering infrastructure and energy storage system (ESS) is essential. With this in mind, KEPCO put together a task force team to implement and execute an AMI project estimated at 1.7 billion won (US$1.6 million), while concentrating on efforts to make the ESS feasible.
Enhancement of technology based on long term R&D enables the commercialization of business models and adds to the nation’s technological strength. KEPCO already has been preparing for a SmartGrid, having already been involved in the government’s 10 major IT and electricity projects from 2005 to 2010. Technological advancement and systems based on such highly sophisticated development have led to the construction of the Jeju Testbed, and KEPCO has begun the age of the SmartGrid.
Last June KEPCO completed the Jeju Testbed project, which has been at work since 2009. While this testbed project is far from being perfect, it is the world’s first credible effort at constructing a facility specifically dedicated to convergence and SmartGrid, a remarkable feat considering that it has given KEPCO the technology and the foundation necessary for exploring various business models.
So far, the testbed project has been focused on categorical testing of data and the development of business models. But now there are plans to realize value-added results through expansion of the SmartGrid, with the aim of cherrypicking and pinpointing characteristics for geographical application. SmartGrid solutions covering areas of standardization, security, compatibility, and usability will also be built, strengthening the nation’s technological capacity.
KEPCO plans to be heavily involved in ESS in conjunction with the government’s policy of balancing distribution expansion and demand control. ESS can store energy during light load time and release when it is needed. It can also combine irregular power sources such as natural wind, solar energy, and electrical systems based on the power grid’s frequency, which is related to the speed of rotation of generators in the power grid. The monitoring of electricity grid frequency, which currently relies on coal – an inexpensive source of energy – can be performed by ESS, and doing so will dramatically reduce the cost of power generation. KEPCO is actively reviewing the applications of ESS for the purpose of monitoring the energy grid frequency, and plans to construct infrastructure capable of monitoring up to 500MW by 2017.