▲ Professor Jeon Yong-seok (Second from the left) and Professor Kang Yoon-mook (Second from the right)
Nowadays in the 21st century, glaciers are gradually melting and sea levels are rising, posing great threats to countries located near the oceans. Indeed, the influence of global warming and climate change now seem to be evident, increasing the demand for the implementation of sustainable science studies and environmental research. Aligning with the world’s need for environmentally sound and sustainable plans, Korea University (KU) Green School takes the further step into studying renewable energy, high-tech environmental science, and policy implementation for a better future.
KU Green School was founded in 2009 as the Graduate School of Energy, Environment Policy and Technology. On founding Green School, KU signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) for the purpose of establishing an education and research facility dedicated to energy and the environment. KU Green School holds its vision to maximize education and research synergy by focusing on clean power generation systems, a sustainable urban environment, and the carbon cycle for bioenergy.
Integration of Technology and Policy
KU Green School centers on researching energy and environmental science, which holds great significance in the current century, as it is a time period highly vulnerable to environmental changes. Renewable energy, and state-of-the-art technologies such as solar cell, fuel cell, bioenergy, hydrogen synthesis and storage technology are a few of the numerous energy fields it endeavors to research. By utilizing the research infrastructure of KU and KIST, it takes pride as the driving force to bring a paradigm shift in the environmental science field.
No matter how essential the development of environmental science and energy technology are, identifying the social value of such technology is just as crucial in society. Likewise, KU Green School puts emphasis on Multidisciplinary Integrative Research and Education , which strives to study the establishment of policies and laws, hand-in-hand with the study of science and technology. In the academic aspect, KU Green School makes courses on energy and environmental policies mandatory, along with engineering classes. Such efforts accentuate the importance of discovering social value and economic validity in technology, supporting the technological research to spread its wings in the actual society.
The “Technology and Policy Integration Seminar” hosted by KU Green School is a great example of the efforts to coordinate the two fields. KU Green School has been continually hosting the seminar twice every semester since 2018, presenting the seventh seminar most recently in June. The seminar aims to introduce the content and process of the research done by the students and facilitate academic exchange between students, professors and environmental experts. KU Green School concentrates on strengthening the competence of its research through such connections in the seminars.
Innovative Steps for a Better Future
On August 28, two research teams from KU Green School were selected in the “Alchemist Project,” which is supported by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) of South Korea. Inspired by the alchemy philosophy, the project was launched by MOTIE with the purpose of encouraging scientific development and research projects that have low possibilities to succeed but nevertheless have tremendous potential. Among the selected 18 teams, the “Transparent Solar Cell,” researched by Professor Jeon Yong-seok and Professor Kang Yoon-mook (Green School) and the “Super Solar Cell,” researched by Professor Lee Hae-seok (Green School) were selected from KU.
Both the “Transparent Solar Cell” and “Super Solar Cell” significantly added an innovative feature to the solar cell — an electrical device that converts energy retrieved from sunlight into electricity through a physical and chemical photovoltaic effect. In particular, Professor Jeon and Professor Kang’s “Transparent Solar Cell” received acclaim for the originality of its solar cell design. Professor Jeon stated, “The basic concept of the ‘Transparent Solar Cell’ was inspired by blinds used for windows. During the daytime, blinds are laid horizontally, which simultaneously allow light energy to enter and increase the transparency of the window. From this concept, our team down-scaled the blind to micro-scale and created a transparent solar cell design.”
Although difficulties still exist in completely developing the “Transparent Solar Cell” into real life, its technological creativity nonetheless shines. Professor Jeon further mentioned, “Designing such a solar cell was certainly a ground-breaking proposal. Developing a solar cell design to a micro-scale is a difficult process, which needs fluorescent materials and advanced new materials for its effectiveness and transparency.” With two teams of KU Green School being selected for the “Alchemist Project,” it can be seen as a meaningful step for KU Green School to rise as one of the best research institutes for new renewable energy technology.
On-going Efforts of KU Green School
Along with the efforts made in academic research, KU Green School continuously endeavors to find methods to expand their studies. For instance, KU Green School showed continuous efforts to collaborate with private and public corporations in order to enhance studies. In 2018, the school signed an MOU with Korea Plant Service and Engineering Corporation (KPS) of Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO). Based on the MOU, KPS sponsored students for the studies on global energy technology policy. On September 5, KPS invited KU Green School students to its headquarters and introduced its power generation facilities, domestic and overseas business conditions, and its systems for technical institutes. Such programs supported KU Green School students to learn in-depth about the energy technology operation process in the actual field.
The Dalai Lama, the spiritual and political leader of Tibet, once stated, “It is our collective and individual responsibility to preserve and tend to the world in which we all live.” Likewise, it is one of the most rudimentary tasks for humans to protect the current environment. KU Green School seeks to find measures which overcome the limits of the present and bring about an ecological environment. The search for efficient yet environmentally clean technology is doubtlessly a difficult task. Nonetheless, by coming up with creative approaches for the future, KU Green School ventures to prompt a revolution in the field of energy industry and environmental policies.