When I wrote about a report claiming Minnesota can run on 100% renewables, I emphasized that a much greater emphasis on conservation and energy efficiency would be needed for any of the best-case scenarios for clean energy to actually play out.
So the news, reported by Bloomberg, that South Korea is installing smart meters in 50% of households by 2016 is encouraging indeed. The savings from this program alone are expected to be enough to eliminate the need for one nuclear power plant:
“We want to make the utility industry intelligent and efficient,” said Choi Kyu Chong, director of the Smart Grid & Electricity Market Division of the Knowledge Economy Ministry. South Korea expects it will be able to save the cost of building a reactor by 2016 by helping households and utilities to manage electricity consumption through the meters, he said. The country is investing in smart meters amid opposition from citizens and political parties over plans to expand its reliance on nuclear energy after the Fukushima disaster last year in Japan.
Of course whether such measures should be seen as a means to avoid nuclear or to phase out coal remains an important point of contention in the environmental movement. But either way, it is a huge step in the right direction.
The greenest energy is the stuff that you never use.