The number of resident-participatory solar photovoltaic power generation cooperatives reached over 20 across the country.
Citizens in Seoul and Gyeonggi-do are most active in installing solar photovoltaic power cooperatives…they set up a separate cooperative for construction and purchase of equipments and materials.
Increasing number of cooperative-type solar photovoltaic power generation facilities are being built by citizens, while solar photovoltaic power generation market has been dominated by companies, inviting criticism that the market is the ‘arena of their league only’.
Many experts argue that the government and electric power authorities need to actively support solar photovoltaic power generation projects taken part by residents, given that these projects provide more advantages than facilities installed by companies, such as reduction of civil complaints, easy decision of locations, and enhancement of residents’ acceptance.
The number of solar photovoltaic power generation facilities, which are built and operated by residents, is rapidly increasing.
A survey conducted by this newspaper found that the number of resident-participatory solar photovoltaic power generation cooperatives reached over 20 across the country. Citizens in Seoul and Gyeonggi-do are especially active in building such facilities. For instance, Seoul Citizens’ Solar Power Cooperative installed in June this year 20kW solar photovoltaic power facilities on rooftops of Samgaksan High School in Gangbuk-gu, Seoul.
And 7 other cooperatives in Seoul, including Gangnam Solar Power Cooperative, Geumcheon Solar Power Cooperative, Nowon Solar and Wind Power Generation Cooperative, and Uridongne Solar Power Cooperative, are installing solar photovoltaic power facilities after registering as corporations.
Besides these, Seoul Citizens’ Solar Power Cooperative and other cooperatives plan to organize one solar photovoltaic power cooperative each in autonomous districts in Seoul in addition to existing ones and establish their federation. These cooperatives have set up a separate cooperative for construction and purchase of equipments and materials.
In Gyeonggi-do, the number of resident-participatory cooperatives for solar photovoltaic power generation reaches 10, including Ansan Citizens’ Solar Power Cooperative that installed 30kW solar photovoltaic power facilities at the Central Library in Ansan in May this year. Other cooperatives in the Province include Gyeonggi Green Energy Cooperative, Siheung Citizens’ Solar Power Plant, Suwon Citizens’ Solar Power Cooperative, and Seongnam Citizens’ Solar Power Cooperative.
Compared to Seoul and Gyeonggi-do regions, they are relatively slow, but residents in other provincial areas are also building solar photovoltaic power facilities. Currently, 6 cooperatives, including Daegu Citizens’ Solar Power Plant (35kW), Asan Solar Power Cooperative, Gyeongnam Solar Power Generation Cooperative, Jeonbuk Solar Power Cooperative, Gangwon Solar Power Cooperative, and Gwangju Solar Power Cooperative, are either in operation or installing facilities. In addition to these, projects of installing resident-participatory solar photovoltaic power facilities are increasing around the country as residents in many regions are either setting up corporations or preparing to do so.
The survey showed that resident-participatory solar photovoltaic power generation projects are getting systematized as they are evolving from residents’ communities to social enterprises that pursue public benefits. After the Framework Act on Cooperatives was enacted in 2012, regional residents are setting up mainly cooperative-type organizations, which are more beneficial than stock corporations.
Industry observers believe Citizen Power, which was established in 2006 and is operating about a dozen power generation facilities, as the precursor to resident-participatory solar photovoltaic power facilities. They analyze that citizens, groups and experts who have been seeking chances began to join forces as local governments are actively pushing to expand renewable energies since then.
In particular, the Seoul City government provided various support measures, including adoption of the feed-in tariff (FIT) system and reduction of building rental fees, and other local governments adopted policies of expanding renewable energy facilities, encouraging residents to take part in such projects. They now can gain profits more easily than before.
Yet, residents still have a number of hurdles to get over in order to establish resident-participatory solar photovoltaic power plants as profit-making businesses. This is because they are facing barriers, such as high rental fee of building rooftops, reduced prices of renewable energy certificates (RECs), discriminative treatment of small capacity power generators, and excessively high costs for connecting to electric power systems.
Secretary General Pak Gyu-seob of Federation of Seoul Citizens’ Solar Power Cooperatives (tentative) said, “Solar power cooperatives in Seoul and Gyeonggi-do will hold performances and a press meeting on September 9 at the Seoul Plaza to urge policy support and interest in installing resident-participatory solar photovoltaic power facilities.”
And Rep. Lee Won-uk (Democratic Party), an advocate of resident-participatory solar photovoltaic power projects who held a few discussion forums, said, “Resident-participatory solar photovoltaic power generation contributes to restoring regional communities. When costs for connecting to electric power systems and rental fees of public facilities are reduced, residents’ participation is expected to increase more than now.”
Source : e2news