By Kim Tae-jong
Companies will be able to store electricity during nighttime and sell it during peak hours the next day as part of efforts to keep a balance in power demand and supply, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy announced Sunday.
The ministry also plans to raise rates for consumption during peak hours and reduce rates during nighttime to avoid a potential power outage.
The measures are part of a new energy bill aimed at putting more emphasis on management of demand rather than a supply increase to tackle the energy shortage problems.
The draft bill, which was discussed at the recent economy-related ministers meeting, is scheduled to be finalized in October, an official said.
For the new energy policy, the government will encourage major energy consumers such as big firms to be equipped with an energy storage system (ESS) and an energy management system (EMS), promising them various incentives.
With an ESS, it is possible to store cheap nighttime electricity and use it during peak hours and also sell the unused power to the Korea Power Exchange, and an EMS will help improve the efficiency by analyzing energy consumption.
"Samsung SDI has already been equipped with an ESS, which allows it to save 127 million won annually," an official from the energy ministry said. "We will systemize the management of electricity demands instead of asking people to join an energy-saving campaign, which we do whenever we face shortage problems."
The ministry expects that the new systems will create about 15,000 new jobs and a new market worth 3.5 trillion won as well as reducing the consumption of electricity up to 10 billion kilowatts during peak hours.
For an early and effective adaptation, the government is expected to reform the current electricity rate scheme to offer benefits to those who store electricity during nighttime and use it during peak hours, and this consequently will encourage companies to be equipped with an ESS and EMS.
The ministry also plans to improve electricity efficiency using the latest information and communication technology.
For example, it will make it mandatory for electric products such as air conditioner to be equipped with smart plug system, which automatically switches off electronic devices when they are not in use and eliminating "standby" power consumption.
The ministry will also replace some 1.36 million lights used at subway stations and terminals with high-efficient LED lamps and require private buildings to be equipped with LED lamps.
The government's move come as it is getting increasingly difficult to catch up with the explosive demand by simply supplying more electricity through building more power plants.
According to statistics, the peak demand stood at 41 million kilowatts in 2000, which soared 65 percent to 75 million kilowatts in 2012. To meet the growing demand, the government has expanded facilities to generate more electricity with the maximum capacity growing to 81 million kilowatts from 48 million kilowatts during the same period.
But the demand is growing so rapidly, while the expansion of generating capacity is limited.
The annual growth rate of electricity demand stood at 5.3 percent between 2000 and 2010, which is much higher than the OECD average of 1.0 percent — 0.7 percent in the U.S., 0.6 percent in Germany, 0.2 percent in Japan and -0.1 percent in Britain.
But it is hard to build new power plants and other facilities to meet the fast growing demand. One of the major obstacles is strong opposition from residents, which is often called NIMBY, or not in my backyard syndrome.
This consequently led the government to come up with a new energy policy to properly control and manage energy demand.
"It won't be easy to set up power plants and electricity transmission facilities," said Trade, Industry and Energy Minister Yoon Sang-jick. "It is important to make the best use of what we have now."
"To encourage companies to be equipped with ESS, it is necessary to change the electricity rate scheme during peak hours," Yoon said, hinting of a hike in electricity rates during the daytime.
전력수급경보가 1단계라도 내려지면 예비율이 보통 5%대로 떨어진다. 하지만 경보가 내려진 날이라도 야간시간대는 예비율이 30% 이상으로 훌쩍 올라간다.
이렇게 남는 심야전력을 저장해뒀다가 피크시간대에 쓸 수 있도록 하는 수단이 바로 에너지저장장치(ESS·Energy Storage System)다.
또 전력사용자가 소비전력을 측정하고 흐름을 제어해 소비를 최적화하는 관리 모델이 에너지관리시스템(EMS·Energy Management System)이다.
정부가 18일 발표한 '창조경제 시대 에너지 수요관리 신시장 창출방안'을 현실화하려면 이 두 가지 시스템의 확산이 필수적이다.
ESS는 개념적으로 전기 에너지의 적시(適時), 적소(適所) 공급을 통해 전력운영의 효율성을 증가시키는 장치를 말한다.
ESS 저장방식은 리튬이온전지(LIB), 나트륨황전지(NaS), 레독스흐름전지(RFB), 압축공기저장시스템(CAES) 등이다.
우리나라에서는 리튬이온전지가 상용화단계에 이르렀지만 다른 기술은 선진국보다 열악하다.
ESS 세계시장 규모는 2010년 2조원에서 올해 11조2천억원으로 커졌고 2023년 23조원으로 가파르게 성장할 전망이다.
EMS는 에너지사용 최적화 시스템이다. 공장에 적용하면 FEMS(Factory EMS), 건물에 도입되면 BEMS(Building EMS), 가정에 설치되면 HEMS(Home EMS)로 구분할 수 있다.
적용 규모에 따라 다르지만 설치비용은 건물 평균 3억∼6억원, 공장은 평균 6억∼10억원이 든다. 국내 기업의 EMS 도입 비율은 2011년 1.6%에서 작년 2.9%로 늘었지만 여전히 미미한 수준이다.
특히 건물 소유주와 사용자가 다르면 EMS 구축에 소홀한 경향이 있다.
EMS를 구축하면 연평균 7∼10%의 전기 절감이 가능하다. GS25 등 6개 편의점은 29.2%를 줄였고 대우조선해양 옥포조선소는 7.7%를 절감했다.
시장규모도 엄청나게 성장할 전망이다. EMS 솔루션과 장비를 공급하는 프랑스 슈나이더사는 연매출 210억유로, 100개국 12만명을 고용한 다국적기업으로 컸다.