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February 06, 2012

Asian Fusion: Hawaii and Korea to Develop Smart Grid in 50th State
By Cheryl Kaften
TMCnet Contributor

The U.S. State of Hawaii has signed another pact with an Asia-Pacific partner in order to expand development of its smart grid and clean energy economy. Electricity has been costly and less-than-reliable for many years on the relatively isolated Pacific Ocean archipelago, some 1,860 miles from the nearest mainland driving the state to deploy the intelligent, new infrastructure and distributed energy sources.

On February 3, Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie and Choi Kyu-Chong, director of the Electricity Market and Smart Grid Division at the Republic of Korea Ministry of Knowledge Economy (MKE), met in Honolulu to sign a formal letter of intent to pursue mutual interests in smart grid development in the Hawaiian Islands.

Governor Neil Abercrombie (right) and Choi Kyu-Chong of Korea sign smart grid development agreement. (Photo by Ed Morita, courtesy Governor of Hawaii’s Office)

“We are delighted that the Republic of Korea has seen the value of partnering with Hawaii on a mutually beneficial smart grid development project,” said Governor Abercrombie. “Partnerships like this show the world just how serious Hawaii is about our commitment to building a leading clean energy economy through clean energy demonstration and implementation, “ adding, “We are building an energy legacy for our state that will benefit the people of Hawaii for generations.”

The Republic of Korea and the State of Hawaii both share the common goals of clean energy and energy independence,” said Director Choi Kyu-Chong. “The language that we share is that of green growth, independence and prosperity. Through the development of advanced energy technologies, including smart grid, we can sustain and prosper.”

Both MKE, a branch of the South Korean government dedicated to regulating economic policy in the industrial and energy sectors, and its Seoul-based  Korea Smart Grid Institute (KSGI) have been involved in the creation of the Korea Smart Grid Roadmap, a plan to implement a nationwide smart grid by 2030.

The MKE and KSGI are currently leading more than 170 South Korean companies in the development and deployment of the Jeju Island Test Bed, a planned 6,000-household smart grid community demonstration project in South Korea, with investments totaling more than $240 million between 2009 and 2013.

KSGI also is in the process of implementing a joint Korea-State of Illinois project to install energy-saving equipment in at least four Chicago buildings, with investments of more than $35 million by companies such as LG Electronics and KT Corporation (formerly known as Korea Telecom (News - Alert)).

``Moving into this arena is enabling Korea to become a major player in the worldwide smart grid technology market, joining the United States and China at the forefront,’’ an MKE spokesperson told the Korea Times. The South Korean government is planning to invest as much as $2.4 billion on smart grid technology by 2030; and the nation is aiming. to cut annual power consumption by up to 10 percent using smart grids.“The state [of Hawaii] currently has approximately 80 renewable energy projects in various stages of development in the queue,” added state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism Director Richard Lim. “Building a smart grid system will help us to manage the power that is generated by renewable resources, which means more projects can come to fruition. That translates into more jobs for our local economy.”

The next step outlined in the letter of intent is for both parties to collaborate on a more defined memorandum of understanding— which will describe the project partners, scope, location, and resource contributions by October 31, 2012.

This is the second such agreement signed by the state recently. In late November 2011, Hawaii signed a pact with Japan's New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO), for a $37 million smart grid project on the island of Maui that will enable residents to use smart appliances, solar panels and electric car charging stations in the future. Actual installations are expected to start late this year and operations are scheduled to begin in 2013.

Cheryl Kaften is an accomplished communicator who has written for consumer and corporate audiences. She has worked extensively for MasterCard (News - Alert) Worldwide, Philip Morris USA (Altria), and KPMG, and has consulted for Estee Lauder and the Philadelphia Inquirer Newspapers. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Rich Steeves


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