Around Asia: Koreans sweating it out amid power crisis

In Other News - August 14th, 2013
Korea Power Shortage

Government employees in South Korea are sweating it out – quite literally – after public offices were ordered to turn off air-conditioners and lighting to save energy ahead of a looming power crisis.

With the country’s electricity demand expected to reach its annual peak amid an extended heatwave and temperatures soaring to 34 degrees Celsius, the government has taken the last-ditch measure, virtually turning public offices into dim ovens.

Two power plants stopped operations on Monday, adding concerns to unprecedented demand amid heat warning in most cities across the country.

The coal-powered Dangjin Ill plant, with a capacity of 500 megawatts, was shutdown due to technical problems and could remain offline for days.

The nearby Seocheon plant resumed operations after an hour but is only working at half its 200-megawatt capacity.

The Korea Meteorological Administration warned that temperatures in parts of the country could soar in coming days, with Daegu recording the highest temperature of 37.9 degrees Celsius.

“We are facing potentially our worst power crisis,” Trade, Industry and Energy Minister Yoon Sang-jick said at an emergency meeting.

“We have to carry out a rolling blackout.. if one single power plant goes out of operation,” Yoon said.

The Ministry of Security and Public Administration called on local governments to join the effort to cut power consumption.

Government officials said they would clamp down on private stores this week.

Employees are feeling the brunt of the drastic measures.

“I don’t know why we have overcome this so far,” said a senior manager at Korea Gas Safety Corporation. “Employees are having a hard time without lights and fans, which we have never expected. We might need a candle, but it is so hot.”

Photo: Cables in Korea. United Nations/Flickr