SEOUL, Feb. 28 (Yonhap) — South Korean telecom companies are stepping up efforts in sustainable energy projects, as they join the country’s broader push for renewable energy and commit more to environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) initiatives.
Last Monday, top mobile carrier SK Telecom Co. said it signed a deal with state-backed utility Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEPCO) to be supplied with 44.6 gigawatt hours of renewable energy annually as part of its efforts to go green.
Along with affiliates under the broader SK Group, such as SK hynix Inc., the telecom operator late last year joined the RE100 campaign, a global initiative for businesses to use 100 percent renewable electricity by 2050.
The mobile carrier said it will use the energy from solar and wind power sources at its telecommunication infrastructure centers in eastern Seoul and Seongnam, south of Seoul, and plans to gradually expand its use to other locations.
SK Telecom added that it will expand use of its artificial intelligence-based data traffic management system for base stations to optimize power consumption.
Smaller rival LG Uplus Corp. is also redoubling efforts in its sustainable energy drive, taking part in a government-led project to utilize Internet of Things (IoT) devices, AI and big data technology to boost energy efficiency in industrial complexes.
LG Uplus said it will establish a cloud-based energy management system at an industrial complex in southwestern Incheon, a port city of west of Seoul, allowing companies inside the complex to track and analyze their energy data without infrastructure of their own.
The system allows for efficient energy management and is expected to reduce costs and help cut down on greenhouse gas emissions, according to LG Uplus.
South Korea plans to install such smart energy management systems in seven industrial complexes across the country by the end of next year.
The move comes as the country plans to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 in line with similar goals set out by other countries.
The country currently relies heavily on fossil fuels, and its backbone industries — manufacturers, steelmakers and the petrochemical segment — are traditionally high carbon emitters.
As of 2019, coal accounted for 40.4 percent of the country’s total power generation sources, followed by liquefied natural gas with 25.6 percent and nuclear power with 25.9 percent. Renewable energy accounted for just 6.5 percent of the total.