National utility Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kepco) stands ready to provide electricity and equipment services in South Africa as part of its goal of growing its export business, Kepco small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) and start-up VP Kwang-Soo Hwang said on Thursday.
The utility has experience in managing a diverse mixture of power sources, while maintaining a stable grid.
The 121-year-old utility has been rated as one of top 100 utilities by Forbes magazine, and has maintained a top-ten power quality rating over three consecutive years in World Bank ratings, Hwang told delegates at the Korea–South Africa power forum, held in Sandton earlier this week.
Korea’s energy mix includes nuclear, coal, wind and solar energy, as well as energy storage, and Kepco provides power for 74.2% of Korea's economy and industries.
It advocates the need for a diverse energy mix to power South Africa's economy, as a good mix of power sources provides stability while allowing renewable energy sources and storage to be added when needed.
The utility is also transforming and digitalising its operations, similar to what traditional utilities and State-owned power utility Eskom are doing. It is building a Big Data-based energy platform to transform its energy business by acting as a platform provider for the entire energy industry.
The utility will also use new technologies, such as energy storage, to foster its future growth and to stabilise the power supply as it increasingly includes renewable energy sources.
Korea is also planning to develop offshore wind generation capacity, as well as a biomass plant.
Kepco is also contributing to making Korean cities smarter, and is building an intelligent power grid platform leveraging automation to provide services. It aims to deploy advanced metering infrastructure by 2020, which will include mandatory energy saving mechanisms and building energy management systems, as well as allowing for independent service providers, and provide real-time use information and billing to customers.
Kepco can provide key inputs into the development of smart grids and microgrids. It extensively uses energy storage plants in island microgrids that also typically integrate renewable energy sources, said Hwang.
The South African government's objective is to rely on various energy sources as part of an energy mix, confirmed South Africa’s Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) acting deputy director-general Mokgadi Modise, adding that South Africa can leverage the wealth of experience Kepco has to enhance the South African energy system.
Ambassador of Korea to South Africa Jong-Dae Park highlighted the importance of power for economic growth, industries and for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. He urged that the momentum to address the challenges with the local energy supply and to attract investment be sustained.
Additionally, he highlighted the Africa Free Trade Area agreement as a very encouraging development during a time of trade wars and tendencies toward protectionism. He added that South African trade with Korea was limited and could be expanded.
Park endorsed the quality and competitive pricing of Korean power equipment companies.
Modise said the DMRE, as part of its engagements with Korea, will ensure that the local business sector is well represented.
Additionally, South Africa is intent on tapping into its natural resources in its energy mix, and stands ready to work with Korea and to craft business opportunities between the nations.
The event saw local electricity industry businesses, including Eskom, meet with Kepco representatives and Korean SMEs in an effort to establish business links and to grow trade and cooperation. It was arranged by KOTRA, the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency.