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Society & Global
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Inadequate Measures for Heat Wave and the Electrical Power Crisis
제 134 호    발행일 : 2012.08.31 

 



Unprecedented Heat Wave
Authorities issued a “Heat wave” warning last Sunday for the Chungbuk province. Nam In-mo, a 21-year-old student living in Cheongju, stayed in his house with only a fan. He said, “I took a shower to cool off. However, the coolness did not last for a long time. I had to go to an Internet cafe to escape from the heat wave. Because of the heat wave this summer, I turned on the air conditioner several times, so I am worried about electricity bills.”
At the same time, Seo Myung-won, who was a teaching assistant in CBNU Kids English Camp, worried that they couldn’t begin on schedule. She said, “Originally, students should participate in outdoor activities. However, because of the heat wave, some students felt dizzy and could not participate in their classes. The heat wave has badly affected this camp.”
On July 30, an elderly man, Mr. Na(71) died on a poultry farm from the heat wave in Cheongwon Gun, Chungbuk. This year, 11 people died from the heat wave. Among these, eight people were old country men whose ages were above 60. To cope with the heat wave and the electric power crisis, the government designated 37,218 “Cool Areas” in the country. People can visit and use these areas from June 1st to September 30th. However, in the cases of farm villages, Cool Areas are located very far from villages. One old man expressed strong dissatisfaction with Cool Areas. He said, “It takes 40 minutes to go to Cool Areas. Who can go there?”
However, the most serious problem is that Korea faces an electric power crisis. Because of the prolonged heat wave and a lack of rain this year, the demand for electricity has rapidly increased. As a result, the concern of black-outs has also increasing. Last year, a huge black out occurred on September 5 in Korea. This accident let Koreans know that Korea does not have enough electricity reserves. In addition, the backup capacity dropped to 4% on August 6, 2012. Korea Electric Power
Corporation gave a warning of a huge black-out where every electrical facility might be cut off.
The causes of the Electrical Power Crisis
Why Korea is experiencing an electrical power shortage? First of all, the government failed to expect demand and supply about electrical power. According to International Energy Agency, the average rate of Korean power consumption increase is six percent each year. The figure is ten times as large as other developed countries. A Ministry of Knowledge Economy officer said, “Last administration’s poor forecasting about demand and supply about electrical power made many problems.” The total capacity of electricity in Korea has remained unchanged for ten years. Korea did not sufficiently construct power plants during this time.
In 2006, the government expected that in 2020, Korea would need 71.8 million KW for maximum electrical power consumption. Korea already reached 74.26 million KW in July 2012. Moreover, while developed countries have 15% of electrical power reserve rate, Korea has only 4% of electrical power reserve rate. This figure showed the poor condition of readiness about huge black-outs.
Cheap industrial electrical power is another cause for the electrical power shortage. A Korea Energy Management Corporation officer said, “Per capita consumption of electrical power in Korea is now the world's highest. We have to reconsider cheap industrial electric power which is occupying 50% of the total Korean electricity consumption.” He insisted that cheap industrial electrical power  for increasing competitiveness of steel, autos and agriculture puts a burden on the people. However, Korea Rural Community Corporation officer Min Un-ki disagreed with that opinion. He said, “The cheap electrical power policy for the livestock industry and agriculture is an essential support for peasant life.” He insisted that the government has to consider a selective support.
In 2010, according to an OECD announcement, Korea’s industrial electricity price was three to four times cheaper than other developed countries such as Japan and Italy. In addition, the increasing rate of Korea’s electrical power utility charge is the lowest among OECD countries. Moreover, while Korea's electrical power utility charge had increased 13.7% from 2003 to 2010, Japan’s had increased 26.2%, The UK’s had increased 120% and France’s had increased 135%. Although government and politicians should carry out raising the electricity bill to resolve the electrical power crisis, legislators have been careful not to offend the people ahead of the presidential elections in December.
The government has to take measures
CBNU professor Ahn Sung-ho(Dept. of Political Science and Diplomacy) insisted that if the fundamental cause of electrical power crisis is not resolved, it can occur at any time. He said, “Long-term Demand Forecasting Models for electrical power which did not work properly until now should be revised. In addition, the government has to make plans for the future such as power plant construction, a nuclear program or a power system planning program to prevent black-outs from a lack of electrical power.”
by Min Kyung-woon / kw32@cbnu.ac.kr

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