|▲ It is essential that the benefits of Jeju’s wind industry go to the Jeju people, says a doctoral researcher. Photo courtesy Jeju Tourism Organization
Kim Dong-joo of Jeju National University told journalists on Feb 19 that Jeju’s wind energy industry needs to make sure it is ready for “energy democracy” in the years ahead.
Kim spoke about his Ph.D. thesis, titled “Wind power and the social transformation of nature: Jeju wind's capitalization and sharing movement,” which explored the opportunities and threats of Jeju’s wind energy industry for local communities.
He stressed that to ensure sustainable growth of the industry there was a needed for increased knowledge and profit sharing with Jeju residents.
“Basically, democratization of the energy industry is crucial. We need to disclose all information to the public and reflect public opinion in policy decision-making,” said Kim, an environmental activist with the Jeju Federation of Environmental Movements.
Jeju is seeking to become a carbon-free island by 2030 with all of its electricity supplied by new and renewable energy.
This includes a plan to expand the island’s current wind energy capacity of 156MW to 2.35GW. The project will also see new energy storage systems and an island smart grid system to manage energy use.
Kim’s research looked into the challenges ahead as Jeju seeks to become a model for the world in new and renewable energy.
Kim analyzed the new wind energy policy from the government as Jeju seeks to become a global model for green energy, and stressed the need for continuous monitoring of private companies.
He proposed a “citizen power movement” as a sustainable long-term policy and called for more citizen involvement and shareholder rights in wind power farms.
One of Kim’s biggest criticisms was the undemocratic nature of Jeju Energy Corporation, emphasizing that all of the senior positions were appointed directly by the governor.
To improve governance and decision-making procedures, Kim proposed public participation and auditing following the German model.
This would see a Steering Committee of residents, union members, businesspersons, civil society and more monitoring of the performance of energy companies.
Kim said to reporters that citizens need to constantly monitor public corporations to ensure the preservation of the natural environment and to ensure that all citizens enjoy the benefits and profits of the energy industry.