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KEPCO Plays Key Role in South Korean Economy

Thursday, June 7th 2007
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Summary:

The advent of the electrical age in Korea began in 1887 with the illumination of the Yi Dynasty’s Kyongbok Palace, not long after the invention of the incandescent light bulb. This article, by ESRI’s Jim Baumann, discusses how GIS is a critical strategic tool the Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) uses to serve its 49 million customers.

The advent of the electrical age in Korea began in 1887 with the illumination of the Yi Dynasty's Kyongbok Palace, not long after the invention of the incandescent light bulb. Shortly thereafter, Emperor Gojong dispatched a special envoy to the Edison General Electric Company in the United States to arrange the installation of three 7 kilowatt steam power generators, and so was born the Hansung Electric Company, the first electric power company in Korea.

More than 60 years later, the Korea Electric Company (KECO) was established with the merging of three regional companies to form a single national electric power company. In 1982, KECO was renamed the Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) and became a wholly government-owned corporation.

Today, KEPCO is the sole provider of electrical generation and distribution in South Korea, serving a population of nearly 49 million. In 2005, the company provided a total of 332,413 gigawatt-hours of electricity across the national power grid. The transmission network currently measures approximately 30,000 kilometers in length and the distribution network is nearly 400,000 kilometers long. KEPCO's substation capacity is now in excess of 200 giga volt amperes to meet the ongoing construction of high-capacity lines throughout South Korea. The company currently operates 58 power-generating plants, 16 of which are nuclear.

"Many of KEPCO's transmission-related facilities were newly constructed and others have been recently renovated," comments Jung-ho Jang, business coordinator at ESRI Korea. "Because their legacy system was text-based, the company faced many challenges in managing that information and responding in a timely manner in the case of a power outage or other emergency."

KEPCO plays a key role in the South Korean economy due to the country's rapid economic expansion over the past decade. The company's workforce totals more than 34,000 employees and it is one of the most profitable companies in the country.

The Korean government regularly issues a Long-term Power Development Plan (LPDP), which provides structure and direction in meeting the country's increasing demand for electricity and a guide for additional power generation facilities, as well as for the expansion of its transmission and distribution network. The new plan projects an increase in the country’s power generating capacity to 88,150 megawatts by 2020.

Comments Jae-ho Park, general manager of the Transmission Division, "Our substation capacity is expected to propel KEPCO into one of the five largest electric utility companies worldwide and establish it as an electric power hub in Northeastern Asia."

Currently, the company is involved in various foreign projects including The Malaya Thermal Power Plant in the Philippines and the Wuzhi Circulated Fluidized Bed Combustion (CFBC) Power Project and Jiulishan Coal-fired Power Project in the Henan Province of China. KEPCO is also working with The Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO) to build nuclear power generating units in the Kumho region of North Korea and is involved in transmission and distribution consulting projects in Myanmar, the Philippines, and Libya.

KEPCO began the use of GIS in 2003 with the implementation of its Transmission GIS (TGIS) pilot project. The installation includes ArcSDE, ArcIMS, ArcInfo, ArcEditor, ArcGIS Schematics and others. KEPCO and Sundosoft, Inc., an affiliated company of ESRI Korea, were responsible for implementing the project.

TGIS is composed of five primary applications including the management of base maps, overhead transmission facilities, underground transmission facilities, system management and an online facility search. The spatial database contains all electrical transmission infrastructure and facilities information including implementation and modification history and connection information. The system also maintains details regarding the availability of nearby resources for maintenance and repair projects. TGIS has facilitated the integration of all of KEPCO's transmission related data, which has led to a major cost savings for the company.

The Korea Electric Power Data Network, one of KEPCO's subsidiaries, has developed linkages from TGIS to other systems for facility planning, construction management, operation management and facility maintenance. In addition, the spatial database is available to other government agencies for a nationwide geographic information-sharing project.

"TGIS has enabled KEPCO to more efficiently manage its transmission and substation information with the integration of facilities asset data into the GIS, the automation of certain maintenance procedures, and the implementation of a GIS-based site selection process. As a result, the company has been able to save costs and make better and quicker decisions, which makes it more competitive.

"In the future, we will integrate ArcGIS Server with our enterprise resource planning (ERP) system to better manage our business processes and distribute GIS services across the organization," concludes Park.


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