Relying on renewable energies for a better future

Renewable energies are taking over the energy sector and proving their performances compared to conventional forms of energy. In relation to this, the International Green Energy Exhibition and Conference event delivered a suitable platform for companies to present their latest innovations to the overseas buyers present at the event. The conference addressed current status, trends and research in the field of solar power, wind power, hydropower, coal-gasification and fuel cell.Within the next decade, Asia will add as much power capacity as the rest of the world combined and renewables will attract two thirds of investments.

Among many other speakers, Axel B. Roepke (German Wind Energy Association Hamburg) and Hans Rijntalder (Wind Minds) highlighted key strategies implemented in the Europe to leverage the use of the wind power, especially within Germany and the Netherlands, that could as well be applicable in South Korea.

For example, Germany, is the most active offshore wind market in Europe, with over 3GW of projects under construction, which is set to beat UK this year in offshore wind energy installations for the first time. In 2012, Germany developed the Bundesfachplan Offshore, the foundation for the network planning of offshore grid connections. To prevent conflict and bottlenecks in the future, it has been recommended for organisations and governments to develop a comprehensive spatial plan, both maritime and sectoral, for all competing users of the sea or the exclusive economic zones and the national grids of the countries.

The potential of solar energy

Throughout the research carried on at this moment and backed up by financial mechanisms set in place by the governments, solar PV systems need to reach the point in which they will use the solar energy in a more efficient way. For example, solar PV systems which utilize less space on the rooftop or that can be easily implemented in a vertical system upon buildings are much needed for high-density urban areas. This would be the case of Tokyo with 13.35 million inhabitants, Shanghai with 24 million or Seoul with 10.14 million, according to the official government.
South Korea, which already has 800K residential PV systems installation, targets to deploy PV industry by 217.5 GW in 2035, as mentioned by Mr. Sanghoon Lee, Director of Green Energy Strategy Institute. This ambitious goal is supported by many leading energy-focused institutions, projecting an increase in the greater efficiency levels of solar cells.

Japan and China jump into the bandwagon

Japan and China are also on the track, having already implemented similar projects, mentioned below, across different sectors: residential, commercial and industrial with ambitious plans for the coming years.

In 2014, according to Ms. Lu Fang, from Solar PV Committee of China Renewable Energy Society, the sector with the highest usage of solar energy in the Chinese market was the rural electrification, followed by commercial and industrial sectors and other PV products. The governmental involvement in the PV industry is strong, backed by the Embodiment of Energy Efficiency “Front-Runner”system, released in January 2015, which aims at upgrading the domestic PV industry.

Meanwhile Japan has another plan on hand for the building and residential sector. The “Energy Saving Milestone for houses and buildings”, set in motion by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Tourism, aims at realization of zero-energy (existing) buildings and houses by 2020, along with energy saving mandate for all newly built houses and buildings.

In Japan, Fujisawa Sustainable Smart Town (Fujisawa SST) is projected under simple, but complex targets: proposal of a smart lifestyle, design of smart spaces and creation of a smart infrastructure. With a vision developed for the next 100 hundred years, it combines a multitude of technologies designed to acquire more than 30% renewable efficiency usage, 30% reduction in water consumption and 70% reduction of CO2 emissions ( vs. 1990). The community solar power generation system, which will supply 100 kW, generated from a Panasonic PV array installed on public land, and the solar rooftops are, without a doubt, one of the elements that will facilitate the attainability of the project’s aims.

Challenges or opportunities?

Projects as Fujisawa SST laid a strong foundation for further developments and will definitely prove to be successful. Individual homes, for instance, with well-implemented solar PV systems, together with other technologies, showed the impressive amount of energy that can be saved, contributing to an environment that is not only high-tech and/or comfortable, but also environmentally friendly. Seoul has a project of only 120 zero energy homes, currently under development and, if proved to be viable, will adopt passive building standards and regulations at a larger scale. Doubtless, change towards a greener future is already happening.

However, taking into consideration the incredible rates at which urbanization is projected to take place, the challenge lies however in a different aspect. By 2050, according to Stanford University, China’s urban population will increase by 300-500 mil. Indian population is set to increase with more than 400 mil. up to 814. Asia is said to accommodate 5.2 billion people. The numbers are huge and the economical, social and environmental consequences implied can be devastating. To properly handle them, greener buildings are amidst the key factors. How quickly can projects like Fujisawa SST and 120 homes in Seoul, together with many others, be implemented at a much larger scale? The organisations, the governments and researchers face a race against time. The sooner, the better. (AGB.com – ARM)

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