China investing in South Korean power grid

July 25, 2011 at 12:55 PM
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SEOUL, July 25 (UPI) -- LS Group, South Korea's third largest conglomerate, will benefit from Chinese investment in the nation's power infrastructure.

A just-released financial report states that China's omnivorous search for foreign power sources will benefit South Korean companies, including the LS Group conglomerate.

China has announced that during 2011-15 it intends to invest $310 billion in electricity production and transmission facilities, primarily in high-voltage lines, to counter the country's chronic power shortages resulting both from rising consumer demand and the increasing needs of the country's massive industrial production sector.

Beijing intends to invest $62 billion a year in the country's energy sector devoted to acquiring electricity generated abroad, a 45 percent increase from the 2009-14 average of $44.3 billion, Seoul's Yonhap news agency reported Monday.

Foreign investment in the country's power grid is certainly needed, as South Korea's electricity infrastructure is under extreme pressure. The South Korean government on Friday urged people to reduce electricity consumption as a recent surge in demand threatens its power supply and raises blackout fears.

Power consumption in South Korea has rising dramatically amid a heat wave and ongoing economic activity, with the country's maximum power demand reached 70.96 million kilowatts Monday, breaching last year's level of 69.89 million kilowatts.

South Korean Minister of Knowledge Economy Choi Joong-kyung said a surge in electricity is inevitable due to the economic recovery but said the problem is households' increasing use of electricity.

"One of the major causes of the recent spike in power use is the rise in use of electricity by households and buildings for air conditioning," Choi said. "A 20 percent cut in the use of air conditioners and fans (in all households and buildings) will save 3 million kilowatts of electricity."

Choi's statement advised people to turn off unnecessary lights and to increase use of public transportation in a national effort to diminish energy usage.

"Energy conditions are not so favorable to us this summer but we are confident we will overcome any problems if all our citizens combine their efforts," he said.

On the country's overall energy issues Choi added: "Small and medium-sized exporters are having difficulties. We're doing a survey through the Korea Federation of Small and Medium Business. Some say the government should let the won appreciate to fight inflation but it is just a naive idea."

In turn, LS Group, South Korea's 19th largest business group by assets, is investing in China, seeking to turn it into its global production base, following last week's inauguration of an LS industrial complex in Wuxi, a city close to Shanghai.

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