The race to create the first carbon-free island is underway. South of South Korea, a tiny island home to 177 people called Gapado could potentially claim the prize. By 2030, nearby Jeju Island, home to over 600,000 people, hopes to achieve carbon-free status using Gapado as their model. The tiny island runs mainly on solar and wind power.
Jeju has been chasing their goal for four years. Together with the district office, they’ve helped Gapado go nearly carbon-free. The district office has spent just over $100 million to install two wind energy generators, which generate around 500 kilowatts (kW), and rooftop solar panels. 48 of 97 homes in Gapado now have rooftop solar. Some residents only had to pay around 10 percent of the costs – the district office paid the rest. The island also ditched electricity poles in favor of underground cables.
Gapado has a system in place to store energy on the inevitable cloudy days. Both the solar panels and wind turbines connect to a “smart meter and smart system on the electricity grid.” The island’s microgrid manager Lee Young-suk described the place as “a giant battery pack.” He told Channel NewsAsia, “Let’s say the entire village consumes around 150 kW. The wind generators produce around three times the power used by the households. If the wind generators produce 500 kW of electricity and store them, we can supply sufficient electricity to the village even if the wind generation is halted.”
Gapado leader Jin Myoung-hwan said the island doesn’t even need to utilize diesel generators, and that solar and wind fulfill their energy needs. Eager to experience carbon-free living, tourists flock to Gapado, which is accessible via ferry from Jeju Island. They walk or ride bikes as there are only around nine cars on the island. And four of those cars are electric.
Via Channel NewsAsia