Seoul uses geothermal tech to help decarbonise buildings

The Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) has announced it is converting its public buildings, including city hall, to an eco-friendly geothermal energy system as part of its bid to achieve carbon-neutrality by 2050.

For example, the SMG will complete replacing old heating and cooling systems of the Mokdong Stadium with a geothermal system this year.

Energy consumption

Once the geothermal system is introduced, energy consumption is expected to decrease by almost one third (30 per cent). SMG also reports, noise and vibration levels will drop as the new system does not require any outdoor condenser.

The geothermal energy system generates thermal energy from soil, bedrock, and underground water to heat and cool buildings. In summer, the underground temperature is lower than the above-ground and vice versa in winter, and the system exploits these temperature differences.

The SMG has released its Comprehensive Plan for Climate Action to achieve 2050 carbon-neutrality and the introduction of the geothermal energy system in public buildings is one of the projects being implemented as part of the plan.

Along with the plan, Seoul has revealed its intention to increase the new and renewable energy penetration rate to 12.6 per cent in 2026 and 21 per cent in 2030 from the current rate of 4.3 per cent. It aims to achieve the goals by encouraging the use of new and renewable energy systems – geothermal, hydrothermal, small hydropower, and solar power – and phasing out fossil fuels.

SMG plans to introduce the system in five new buildings, including Pyeongchang-dong Art Complex this year, a further eight buildings including the Robot & AI Museum in 2023, and three more buildings including West Seoul Museum in 2024.

In addition, large buildings and construction plans – public facilities and large-scale maintenance projects – may be required to apply the geothermal system by the city.

Additionally, Seoul will grant 1.75 million South Korean won of subsidy to houses that have newly installed the geothermal system, which will be issued by November.

“To proactively deal with soaring oil prices and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, we must make more people use renewable energy. Therefore, we will increase financial investment, provide more support for private loans, offer subsidies, and require new buildings to use the geothermal energy,” said Yoo Yeon-Sik, director general of Climate & Environment Headquarters, Seoul.



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