Energy

Suwon: Social Cooperative Creates Energy Sharing Projects

Started by citizens, the “Sharing Solar Power Project” in Suwon is a cooperative that invests in solar energy and uses the returns to invest in social welfare and additional solar projects. Fifty percent of the profits generated by the solar photovoltaic (PV) projects are directed to a social welfare fund; the remaining half is reinvested in new PV installations, decided by the 271 cooperative members.

20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020

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The city, which aims to become one of the world’s top three eco-cities, has a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 20% by 2020. The Sharing Solar Power Project, one of the city’s seven key strategies, is bringing renewable energy to more citizens every day. The cooperative aims to install 2 MW of PV by 2020, which will provide 2,410 MWh, and reduce carbon emissions by 1,000 metric tons of CO2 equivalent, annually. Suwon is on track to reach their target early, and there are plans to build an additional 3 MW by 2030.

Energy_Suwon2The solar cooperative was first proposed by ordinary citizens and is promoted by citizens, too.

The challenge

Between 1990 and 2012, South Korea’s greenhouse gas emissions more than doubled. To combat this and improve air quality in urban areas, the country launched several initiatives as part of their green growth strategy, including an emissions cap-and-trade scheme. Grassroots projects such as the Sharing Solar Power Project could contribute significantly to changing perceptions and ramping up renewables over short timescales.

Co-benefits

Economic Fifty percent of the returns from solar investments will either be put into a social welfare fund or reinvested into additional solar projects. As of February 2017, the city had accumulated $200,000 in profits.

Social The social cooperative that builds and operates the solar projects is also responsible for reinvestment in additional community projects. The profits generated by projects installed in 2016 were used to finance a 10-kW PV system at a children’s welfare facility.

Health Welfare projects using installation profits will target the energy poor to reduce the impact of heat and cold temperature stresses.

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