How people power has transformed Seoul's energy landscape

Posted 04/07/2019 by E.ON

Since 2012, the South Korean capital city, Seoul, has been transforming how it generates and uses energy. A large part of its success has come from getting the city's residents directly involved.

Before implementing new sustainability policies, the government-initiated conversations with local people . A Citizen's Committee was created made up of people from all sectors of society, including white collar professionals, academics, religious groups and community groups. Then a series of events were held to hear what people thought about ways the city could reduce its energy use.

A new government citizen communication team was set up and used social media, policy workshops, and talks to get further feedback. This information was harnessed to help develop new policies that would work for the people.

First sustainable steps

New policies and action plans included retrofitting buildings to make them more energy efficient, including the installation of solar roof panels and heat generation from sewage, chimneys and other waste creating renewable energy.

The city's young people were also put to work. In 500 schools , 22,000 students were appointed 'energy angels' and tasked with helping to prevent energy waste in homes and schools by highlighting how people can be more efficient and instilling sustainable thinking as part of everyday life.

These first steps have had a major impact and by June 2014 the city had achieved its phase one goal of reducing energy use to the equivalent of 2 million barrels of oil. Seoul's second phase goal is to reduce energy usage by another 4 million barrels of oil by 2020, as well as reducing emissions of greenhouse gases by 10 million tonnes.

Sustainable city ongoing plans

An important part of the plan is to shift to more renewable energy. Many of the city's landfill sites, and others surrounding the city, are to be turned into renewable energy power plants.

The first step will see solar energy power plants built on landfill sites alongside existing biomass and landfill gas power plants. When the first new plant goes live in 2021, it will produce electricity for around 80,000 homes.

The Seoul Energy Corporation is running a pilot project called 'Solar Station', looking at ways to store the leftover energy from solar cells so that it can be reused later on. It has also increased supply of electric vehicles to 10,000 and introduced a life-cycle management service that covers everything from the purchase, maintenance, and recharging of electric vehicles, to their eventual reselling or recycling. Other Korean cities have been inspired by Seoul's achievements and are now setting up citizen engagement plans to set them on their own path to sustainable city status.

Making your own home more sustainable

 There are simple changes we can make to ensure our own homes are more sustainable, potentially saving us money too:

Getting a smart meter will help you see where you’re using energy in your home and therefore where savings could be made.
Installing a smart thermostat means you can control your home heating wherever you are, helping to minimise waste.
Solar panels and battery systems allow you generate your own electricity and store any power you haven’t used to power your home at night.

Find out more about how E.ON is helping homes and businesses become more sustainable.

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