SEOUL, March 27 (Korea Bizwire) – The demand for household solar panels is soaring, with bigger subsidies on offer from the Korea Energy Agency and local governments, as households try to dodge sky-high electricity bills that dumbfounded them last summer.
Starting this year, the KEA is providing 3.51 million won ($3,148) in subsidies for a 3kW solar panel installation. Subsidies from local governments vary, and not all municipalities provide them, but they can be as high as 1.2 million won (in the case of Cheongju).
Considering a 3kW solar panel installation costs roughly 8 million won, households now need to cover less than half of what was typically required.
The realistic motive for households to turn to sunlight generation from conventional sources is to save on electricity bills.
South Korea suffered an unprecedented heat wave last summer, leading to soaring utility bills with heavy air conditioner use. The country’s controversial electricity billing system, which levies higher rates for higher power consumption, was once again brought to debate as some consumers here turned to solar panels as a solution.
According to a local photovoltaic equipment firm, installing solar panels can help cut down monthly electricity bills by more than half, from an average of 60,000 to 70,000 won to 10,000 to 20,000 won. “The demand skyrocketed recently,” said an official.
Given the circumstances, the KEA’s budget allocated to solar panel subsidies had already ran out as of March 17. A total of 7.3 billion won had been designated as official subsidies, enough to support 1,800 households.
“The rate of competition this year was almost five to one with the burgeoning demand,” a KEA official said. “Last year’s controversy over the progressive electricity billing system seems to have played a big role.”
By Kevin Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org)