Energy Future Created by Citizens - ‘Energy Design 3040’

Four components needed for the success of local energy plan are said to be: local energy planning; ordinances to back up the plan; departments and budget for implementation; and citizens’ participatory governance for monitoring and public-private cooperation. “Energy Design 3040,” a local energy plan of Jeonju suggested by the Jeonju Council for Sustainable Development and drafted by the citizens themselves unveils an ambitious goal to raise energy self-sufficiency rate and electric power self-sufficiency rate to 30% and 40%, respectively by 2025, which, in comparison, stood at 11% and 5.8%, respectively, in 2013. Although it is not legally obligated, the Jeonju City Government is pushing for its local energy plan through the direct participation of citizens for the first time among local authorities. This is a daunting challenge for a local municipality to tackle singlehandedly as the plan requires enormous budget and administrative resources. Jeongju is trying to take up this daunting challenge head on through the establishment of energy governance, where NGOs, civil societies, and City Council take part to check progress and share ideas, and through an active participation by the private sector.

Background of Local Energy Plan Adoption

It would not be an exaggeration to say that when it comes to Korea’s energy policy establishment and energy production and distribution, all local authorities and people have relied entirely on the central government. While they are the consumers of energy produced and offer bases for energy production, local governments and residents failed to independently participate in policy-making processes and only played a limited role, relaying and implementing what was decided at the central government level. In 2015, the Jeonju Council for Sustainable Development suggested setting up a local energy plan to the Jeonju City Government after it accessed the knowledge of international best practices on energy independence and energy security. The suggestion intended to produce energy locally for local consumption by decentralizing centralized energy production and distribution system and also to make energy plans for 650,000 Jeonju citizens together with the citizens for effective energy demand management. To launch a serious discussion of local energy plan, the Jeonju Council for Sustainable Development, the Jeonju City Government, and the Energy and Climate Policy Institute entered into an agreement and agreed to the following principles in setting up the plan: citizens themselves will directly participate and decide on the future of Jeonju’s energy, including civil societies and community NGOs, while excluding prior planning methods that relied only on experts for planning; a decentralized energy plan should be established; and renewable energy should be used, not fossil fuels.


Citizens take the lead in planning

The research process for planning was also designed jointly by the citizens, NGOs, research institutes, and the City Government. One of the suggestions was to allow the participation of as many citizens as possible, but given that energy is an unfamiliar subject for citizens and that it is not just the direction but also goals and scenarios must be also determined by the citizens themselves, expert energy researchers’ view was accepted to determine an appropriate size of participation. As a result, a cap was given to 50 in the number of participants for a long-term deliberation. It was not easy to recruit 50 people as environment activists and energy-sector workers had to be excluded and ages and residential locations had to be considered as well. During the recruitment, the proportion of students and teachers was increased in consideration that energy has to be shouldered by our future generation and that future-oriented values are to be reflected in the plan.  

After the participating citizens were recruited, three rounds of citizens’ workshop were held. The agenda of the workshop held for six hours each time of three rounds consisted of learning energy; business proposal; and goals and scenarios. The participants studied worldwide energy trend, energy types and current developments, and the current status of energy use in Jeonju and Korea. Studying cases of cities around world where energy policy shifted from fossil to renewable, they were inspired. Citizens named the title of local energy plan and proposed implementation ideas for the energy plan. The key message was: “How will Jeonju consume energy in the future?” On the last day of workshop, three scenarios were suggested based on discussions they had had. The first scenario suggested the highest level of goal; second, intermediate level, and third the lowest level. Citizens had their explicit views and were divided. Similar proportions of people preferred each goal as some preferred pragmatic third scenario, while others preferred the first scenario arguing that ambitious goals will achieve more in practice and the rest opted for somewhere in between. Citizens were pressed by the demand that the decision they made will determine the future of the City in ten years, so the debate was fierce. After heated discussions, the first scenario requiring the strongest goal and practice was adopted, and key decisions were as follows.

  • Vision: Jeonju, Energy-independent City of Culture
  • Value: Warm Jeonju, With Energy That I Make
  • Goal: Energy Design 3040 – Achieving energy self-sufficiency of 30% and electric power self-sufficiency of 40% by 2025 (as opposed to self-sufficiency of 11% and electric power self-sufficiency of 5.8% in 2013)
  • Energy Reduction: Reduce energy consumption by 12.8% compared to 2013 (saving: 95,546TOE; efficiency: 81,346TOE)
  • Renewable Energy Production: 356,353TOE (compared to 151,300TOE in 2013)
  • Expected Effect: Energy conversion and replacement of 381,945TOE; greenhouse gas emissions reduction: 903,765tCO₂


<Jeonju Local Energy Plan “Energy Design 3040” Policy Tasks>

Strategies 30 Policy Tasks
Saving and Efficiency


Citizens’ energy independence campaign


Distribution of high-efficiency smart energy devices


Ongoeul (across community) project


Improving energy efficiency of buildings and certifying energy efficiency grades

Decentralization and Production


Solar apartments


Solar school


Household solar power generation


Idle land sunshine park


Green factory and conversion of unused waste resources into energy


Residents-led energy independent village


Jeonju citizens’ energy cooperative


Energy fund and power generation surplus compensation system (Feed in Tariff)

Participation and Sharing


Certification system of energy designed by citizens


Jeonju Blooming Energy Center establishment and operation


Train energy architect and welfare service persons


Jeonju citizens’ fund for energy welfare


Improving energy efficiency of low-income family houses (Weatherization Assistance Program)

Education and Culture


Energy-independent schools and energy education/experience


Carbon-free collages and green campuses


Energy experience at eco-friendly zoo


Photovoltaic tiled roof pilot project


World Cup Stadium Supporters’ Power Station and Energy-conversion Street


Energy-independent Jeonju film festival

Co-prosperity and Solidarity


Renewable energy service and industrial ecosystem creation


Photovoltaic lease industry


Housing energy efficiency project division


Energy supermarket


Distribution and sharing of electric bicycles and small electric cars


Very Good Energy (cooperation for local community renewable energy)


Renewable energy guideline and solar instruction


Adoption of citizens’ plan as the City Government’s policy

Even after the citizens’ workshop for the creation of scenarios was over, civil societies’ activities went on. The local energy plan produced by the workshop was submitted to the City authorities. The City Government and City Council adopted the citizens’ plan as suggested although they were not legally obligated to do so. It was a dramatic moment that a plan, developed by citizens themselves, not by a few external experts, is recognized by the City. No matter how good a plan is, it is worthless unless the plan is carried into action. NGOs in Jeonju founded the Jeonju Energy Conversion Forum of Citizens to collectively carry the plan into action with citizens. Joined in the Forum were: Jeonbuk Korean Federation for Environmental Movement; Jeonbuk Green Korea; Jeonbuk Forest of Life; Citizens’ Action 21; Jeonju Council for Sustainable Development; Jeonju Hanwool Cooperative; Hansalim Jeonbuk Cooperative; Jeonju Medical-social Cooperative; Feel Design; Daegi ENG; and Jeonju City Council Members. The Forum is a governance body of citizens supported by the City Government. The Forum developed strategies to implement the local energy plan.

After the strategies were developed, priorities were given to thirty projects in five areas. A top priority was given to energy efficiency project of buildings considering the outdated conditions of many old buildings in Jeonju. Taking into account the lack of public awareness on energy sector, the next highest priority was given to education of citizens and public relations. The third was producing and distributing renewable energy. Three follow-up strategies for action were also developed and suggested to Jeonju Mayor: establishment of energy fund with 3.5 billion won, created by the sale of surplus heat from incineration plant run by Jeonju City to the industries, for stable operation of related projects; establishment of the Energy Center for the management of private sector participation; and creation of Energy Conversion Division within the City. The Jeonju Energy Conversion Forum holds regular monthly meetings to check up on the execution of the local energy plan and adds momentum to its implementation through cooperation with the City. Part of the cooperation is prioritizing annual programs for the City Government and the private sector, respectively.


Achievements of the local energy plan

A series of activities to develop priorities and implementation strategies and make suggestions for the establishment and execution of citizens’ local energy plan naturally helped to coordinate priorities of local authorities’ projects in energy sector. The three execution strategies suggested directly to the Mayor were all adopted and implemented in 2016-2018. First of all, institutionally, an administrative organization of energy section under the division of environment was expanded to, and newly established as, Energy Conversion Division at the end of 2016. This Division pushed hard for energy fund raising to implement related projects. In early 2017, Energy Fund Ordinance was passed, creating 2.2 billion won in energy fund for three major projects in 2018. Furthermore, a plan was issued to found the Energy Center, a control tower of private sector project implementation for effective execution of citizens’ local energy plan “Energy Design 3040” and for the realization of energy self-sufficient city with citizens’ participation. The Energy Center will be responsible for: renewable energy distribution support and management; support for citizens’ collaboration projects for energy conversion; energy education and PR support; energy welfare programs for the energy-deprived; and establishment of a cooperative network with various organizations and support for the network activities.

Furthermore, the implementation of policy tasks under “Energy Design 3040” achieved greater preference for, and expansion of citizens’ participation in, renewable energy distribution and contribution to more energy-self-sufficient city. Renewable energy was distributed to 238 individual houses (714㎾), 890 units of collective housing (242㎾), and three public buildings (240㎾); and over 1,000 units of lighting in low-income families and public facilities were replaced with high-efficiency LED lamps as part of energy saving and efficiency-improvement project. Moreover, 2.8 billion was obtained from the renewable energy convergence support program offered by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy in 2019, which will be spent on installing 183 photovoltaic power stations (884㎾), 24 solar heat stations (383㎡), and five geothermal stations (88㎾) in a total of 212 places such as industrial facilities, housing, and public facilities. In addition, for the expanded distribution of Jeonju Citizens’ Solar Power Station that economically benefits participating citizens, a ground was broken in January 2019 to build a 100kW photovoltaic power station at Hyoja Water Distribution Reservoir. The photovoltaic power station at the Reservoir was made possible with capital fund invested by 123 people amounting to around 150 million won raised through workshops and promotions on photovoltaic power generation project in which participating citizens share profits. Station 2 and 3 will be constructed in the same manner. Meanwhile, various private cooperation programs were also carried out to expand the public consensus on and participation in building an energy self-sufficient city, including energy conversion fair, green city contest, and energy independence campaign.



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