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Korea ups refund rate of energy-efficient program for socially vulnerable 2023-03-03

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) announced on March 1 that it will be implementing a 10-20 percent refund program as of March 2 for energy-efficient home appliance purchases for approximately socially vulnerable households (app. 3.5 million) in Korea to mitigate financial burden amid surging energy prices.

The refund program is the Korea government’s “energy conservation and efficiency improvement” policy in order to fundamentally transition to low energy consumption and high-efficiency economy and social structure.

For socially vulnerable groups and small business owners, the Government will increase support from energy suppliers for efficiency enhancement, and expand loan assistance for efficiency innovation investments in the industry sector, which takes up over 60 percent of total energy consumption.

Minimum energy performance standards (MEPS) for fluorescent lamps were recently tightened as part of realigning the energy-efficiency management system to induce the spread of high-efficiency products and companies’ product efficiency innovation. Beginning 2028, domestic manufacturing and import of fluorescent lamps will be banned, a move to accelerate the transition to high-efficiency LED lighting.

Support for vulnerable groups’ high-efficiency home appliance purchases is part of an efficiency innovation policy promoting energy cost reduction and assisting the replacement of low-efficiency products with high-efficiency products.

In 2021 and 2022, the same support program was run on the Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO)’s corporate budget and limited to refunding 10 percent of the high-efficiency product price and KRW 300,000 per household maximum. Starting this year, the 300,000 won cap remains, but households will be grouped into two types so that the lower income bracket can receive a refund portion of up to 20 percent. The total amount of refund support for the lower income bracket will widen this year as well, with an allocation of over 50 percent of the program budget (13.9 billion won).

MOTIE emphasized that it anticipates that this refund program will contribute to reducing approximately 8GWh (annual power consumed by app. 2,100 four-person households) worth of energy per annum and contribute to energy welfare for the socially vulnerable.