▲ Jeju Governor Won Hee-ryong (left) joined South Korean Environment Minister Yoon-Seong-kyu for a tour of the expo. Photo by Matt Collison
A smart grid capable of distributing enough electricity to the province's electric vehicles (EVs) is vital if Jeju's carbon free dream is to become a reality, the island's Governor has said.
Jeju Special Self Governing Province wants to replace air polluting internal combustion engine vehicles with zero emission ones by 2030.
Speaking at the International Electric Vehicle Expo 2016, Governor Won Hee-ryong warned that many challenges lay ahead on the road to a greener Jeju.
He said completing a smart grid capable of distributing enough electricity to the province's EVs on top of meeting present power demands was crucial to realizing the carbon-free goal.
Without it Jeju could be hit by frequent power blackouts as thousands of EV owners hook up their vehicles to recharge overnight, Governor Won warned.
Speaking at a press conference at the expo, he said: "This is an issue we need to resolve."
The Korean government selected Jeju as a test-bed for the smart grid project in 2009 with 64.5 billion won set aside for the initiative, according to Korea Smart Grid Institute.
By 2030 it is hoped the island's electrical supply will be provided entirely by new and reusable energy with a major expansion in electricity supplied by wind energy.
Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO), automakers, telecommunications firms and major home appliance businesses are backing the project with the aim of completing the smart grid by 2030.
So far 2,800 charging stations have been installed in Jeju with an extra 4,200 units planned to be built this year. The province hopes to build a total of 75,000 charging stations by the carbon-free target year.
Governor Won said the province must continue its work with the project’s participants in supplying the power needed for charging electric cars as well as providing electricity to the island's residents and businesses.
But supplying an energy grid capable of meeting the island's energy demands was just one of the obstacles that must be overcome, Governor Won told journalists.
The cost of buying an electric car and the long-term availability of Government subsidies were other issues to be addressed, he said.
Governor Won said buyers will be attracted by Government subsidies, with 19 million won to be made available per car this year. A further 4 million won subsidy is available for charging installation.
But he warned financial aid cannot be guaranteed in the longer term. He added that if the cost of electricity were to rise it could remove people's motivation for buying an EV.
Other challenges faced by the province in realizing its carbon-free goal include efficient and environmentally friendly methods of disposing of and replacing an electric vehicle's battery after they have come to the end of their lifespan.
When asked what will happen to the island's fuel stations after 2030, Governor Won replied negotiations would need to take place with owners of the filling stations.
He said it was possible today's forecourts could be adapted to provide electrical charging points.
Governor Won also said motorists faced a lengthy wait for their vehicles to recharge - at least 30 minutes using current generation technology.
However garage forecourts could be adapted to provide services to motorists during this waiting time, he said.
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