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South Korea's smart meters avert the need for nuclear plants?

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Can South Korea's household smart meters circumvent the need for a nuclear power plant?

South Korea says a decision to install smart meters in at least 50 percent of the country's households by 2016 could reduce electricity consumption equivalent to the projected cost of one nuclear power plant, Bloomberg reports.

Director of the Smart Grid & Electricity Market Division of the Knowledge Economy Ministry, Choi Kyu Chong, said that the government wants to "make the utility industry intelligent and efficient".

Although the proposals have been met with fierce opposition by both citizens and political groups, the installation of the smart meters will be going ahead. The meters will show citizens how much electricity they are using, and therefore how much they are spending at different times of the day. As such, the government hopes that this may encourage consumers to use electricity when the hours are 'off-peak' and it is cheaper for suppliers to generate.

The devices cost between approximately 20,000 and 140,000 won a unit ($17 - $124), depending on whether the use is household-based or commercial, and will be replacing old, analogue models. The South Korean government has pledged 1.47 trillion won ($1.3 billion) to ensure the scheme goes ahead.

If the 2016 target is met, then South Korea will be second only to China in terms of Asian countries that have adopted the meters. In comparison, China plans to install the smart meters in 80 percent of households by the same year. In the U.S., it is estimated that 50 percent of homes already have these meters installed.

The meters' design and purpose is part of a larger scheme, the Smart Grid project, which aims to help reduce energy consumption by 3 percent, and electricity use by 10 percent by the year 2030.

The South Korean government hopes that every household will be equipped with a smart meter by 2020.

(via Bloomberg)

Image credit: Tssarni/Flickr

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Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure