Currently, Seoul and its surrounding cities have the highest population density of 2,195 people per square kilometer, which is about five times larger than that of the southern port city of Busan, which is the second-largest city in South Korea with a population of some 52 million.
Inevitably, the capital city area also has the highest electricity consumption rate. Sometimes, electricity has to be drawn from other areas during peak times in summer and winter when overall energy consumption rises due to air conditioning and heating.
Normally, high-voltage power line networks cover South Korea via power transmission towers but many people do not like the look of the hulking structures and fear side effects of electromagnetic fields generated by the high-voltage cables. There are debates over electromagnetic fields which were found to cause cancer and other disorders through various studies.
The Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) unveiled a long-term power transmission infrastructure plan that houses blueprints for a 15-year plan to renovate the country's power transmission infrastructure by 2036. One of the projects included in the big plan is the electricity expressway using submarine high voltage direct current (HVDC) cables to draw power from the southern Jeolla Province to Seoul and its surrounding cities.
North Jeolla Province and South Jeolla Province have a total population of some five million. Jeolla Province has a nuclear power plant and renewable energy sources such as solar power generation facilities that are built on claimed lands along the western and southern coastlines. However, because the province's industries mainly focus on agriculture and fishing, the electricity consumption level is lower than in other provinces or cities.
According to KEPCO, all HVDC cables will be connected to the capital city area through a submarine network system to avoid complaints from local people. KEPCO's project will be the country's first domestic submarine HVDC cable infrastructure operation.
A KEPCO official told Aju Business Daily that while some of the projects will be carried out by the state, other parts will be given to private operators. There is a high chance that major South Korean electric cable maker LS Cable & System would bid to become an operator of the HVDC cable network project. LS Cable has a submarine HVDC cable manufacturing facility and three cable-laying ships.
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