FREE signs MOU with City of Daejeon & KIER (Korea)

Signing ceremony between FREE, Daejeon, and KIER

FREE, Daejeon Metropolitan City Government, and the Korea Institute of Energy Research (KIER) have signed an MOU to initiate a collective effort to develop smart city strategies for Daejeon in South Korea. The MOU signing ceremony was held on October 22nd, 2018 simultaneously with the Smart Zero Energy City Global Conference hosted by Daejeon Metropolitan Government.

FREE’s Dr. Byrne gave a keynote speech at the conference, emphasizing the importance of continued city-level innovations in fighting climate challenges and accelerating sustainable and just energy transitions. In his presentation, Dr. Byrne highlighted Daejeon’s potential to contribute to this movement and offered a policy agenda that can help jump-start the City’s smart solar city development.

Daejeon holds a unique position in South Korea. Known for being the ‘city of science and technology’ in the country, Daejeon has been home to a number of national research institutes and research-oriented universities. KIER is one of the leading research institutes in the energy field with primary focus on energy technology R&D and commercialization. With these think tanks and research opportunities around, Daejeon City Government has been eager to lead the 4th industrial revolution technologies and innovations including smart city development.

Under the MOU signed by the three parties, FREE will enthusiastically cooperate with Daejeon and KIER to develop Daejeon city’s sustainable energy policies and smart zero energy city planning. Such efforts will include advisement, knowledge sharing, and joint research. FREE is thrilled to be partnered with the ‘science and technology city’ of Korea and the country’s leading institute of energy research. FREE looks forward to meaningful collaborations in the shared vision of sustainable and smart energy cities.

View the MOU:

FREE partners with KIER on Energy Policy Research and Technology Assessment

FREE and the Korea Institute of Energy Research (KIER) has agreed to make mutually beneficial research cooperation on sustainable and renewable energy technology assessment. The two parties signed an MOU on October 19th, 2018.

KIER was founded in 1977 under the mission of promoting energy technology R&D to enhance citizen’s quality of life and national energy security. As a government-funded research institute, KIER’s main research areas include energy efficiency and materials, new and renewable energy, and climate change technologies. Currently, the institute houses more than 300 doctorate-level researchers. Its 2018 budget was over $160M.

FREE is excited about the opportunity to collaborate with KIER’s research team of new and renewable energy in areas of economic, technical, and policy assessment of sustainable energy technologies. Based on KIER’s excellence in energy research and the Foundation’s research experience in renewable energy policy analysis, FREE is confident that the partnership will produce meaningful outcomes that can benefit both the institutions.

View the MOU:

FREE Informs U.S. Congressional Bipartisan Climate Caucus

Dr. John Byrne (FREE), Alex Kragie (Coalition for Green Capital), U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello (PA-06), and Charlene Heydinger (Texas PACE).

On June 7, 2018, FREE presented an assessment on the status and trends of green finance in the United States to the U.S. Congressional Bipartisan Climate Solutions. This bipartisan group of U.S. house of Representatives explores policies that address our changing climate, focusing particularly on economically attractive options. Our presentation informed the Caucus about the U.S. green finance market as a whole and about several innovative green finance applications in particular. To support the presentation and discussion, FREE drafted a memo for the Caucus members (see Policy Brief on Green Finance).

As part of the presentation, Dr. John Byrne showcased the performance of the Sustainable Energy Utility (SEU) in Delaware and our recent $15 million round of financing under the Pennsylvania Sustainable Energy Finance Program (PennSEF). Our research revealed that the 2012-2017 green finance market supported the investment of $54.8 billion in green infrastructure and other sustainable energy programs. In addition, the data shows a rapid acceleration with increasingly critical positions being awarded to infrastructure-scale finance vehicles like the SEU and PennSEF. Market projections show a continued acceleration in the green finance market which represents a promising trend for the future implementation of FREE programs.

The presentation also emphasized the interesting role street lighting (a main focus of the first round of investments under the PennSEF program) could play to accelerate the implementation of “smart cities” and the “internet of things”. As a public asset, street lights are ubiquitous throughout the urban fabric and are already connected to the electric grid and each other. Adding additional services to existing infrastructure when performing comprehensive energy saving measures could help improve resilience and active (energy) management. Smart public lighting, in this vein, could become a “backbone” that enables a wide range of other “smart city” applications such as hosting sensor networks and wireless communication for smart parking, incident detection, emergency response, etc. This is an opportunity that FREE will explore in more detail moving forward.

We would like to extend our appreciation to U.S. Representative Ryan Costello for being part of the innovative bipartisan caucus and listening to our ideas. In addition, we thank Evan Endres from The Nature Conservancy for organizing our attendance at the event and Alex Kragie (Coalition for Green Capital) and Charlene Heydinger (Texas PACE) for their presentations on innovative green finance vehicles.



FREE Applauds the Launch of a “Solar City Seoul”

Dr. Byrne and Mayor Park Won-soon interview in Seoul, Korea

The government of Seoul has announced plans to invest $1.5 billion in a new initiative that aims to deploy 1GWp of solar energy by 2022.

In November 2017, Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) declared its intention to deploy 1 gigawatt of rooftop solar as part of its “Solar City Seoul” master plan. Over the next five years, Seoul city government plans to invest $1.5 billion to make the project a reality. This is a significant step forward in the future of Seoul’s sustainability contribution and follows in the wake of the very successful first stages of the city’s One Less Nuclear Power Plant (OLNPP) initiative. 1 Under initiatives like the OLNPP, Seoul focused heavily on promoting energy conservation and efficiency improvement. With this new Solar City Seoul plan, the city is ramping up investment in energy production as well. FREE applauds this direction chartered by the Mayor of Seoul, Mr. Park Won-soon.

FREE has been actively advising the city for five years on the prospects of becoming a “solar city.” As part of the Seoul International Energy Advisory Council (SIEAC), Dr. John Byrne has described to city officials the potential of rooftop solar across the 10-million people strong city. FREE has also published several refereed articles analyzing the emergent role of the solar city concept coupled with new priorities, such as policy effectiveness, solar financing support, and market mechanisms available to Seoul to explore this potential in detail. 2 For example, research we have conducted shows Seoul has a full deployment potential of about 10 gigawatts. 3

FREE attended the launch of the initiative. Mayor Park Won-soon and Dr. Byrne were interviewed by leading Korean newspapers on the strategy. During an interview with Kyunghyang Shinmun, Mayor Park underscored FREE’s role, noting that he “had an opportunity to take a view of the downtown area in Seoul from Namsan Mountain with Prof. Byrne. As I talked with him, I realized that Seoul has a significant PV technical potential.” 4

Pictured here are Mr. Park Won-soon, Mayor of Seoul and Dr. John Byrne, President and co-founder of FREE discussing the Seoul Solar City initiative.

A striking feature of the Solar City Seoul plan is the commitment to increase household-level PV deployment through miniature solar generators installed on rooftops and verandas or so-called “mini-PV” technology. This prong of the plan will engage more than 100,000 households in helping to supply solar energy to the city! This is exactly in tune with the Mayor’s original pursuit of the idea that “citizens are energy.” The initiative will make solar energy a part of the everyday life of Seoul’s citizens and businesses.

FREE has worked extensively on the concept of the “solar city” – the citywide deployment of rooftop solar energy. Our work shows not only that Seoul has significant potential to develop itself as a solar city but that cities like New York, Tokyo, London, Amsterdam, and Munich possess similar resources. 5 Indeed, a paper published in the International Journal of Urban Sciences by the FREE research team highlights the fact that this opportunity is common to most cities around the world. 6 An investigation of the market, finance, and policy considerations associated with solar city deployment found that the concept is not only technically feasible but it also creates practical economic benefits, including job creation and expansion of local green industries, and results in significant environmental benefits by shrinking the city’s carbon footprint by more than 10 percent. 7

“I will make Seoul a place where PV can be found everywhere”, the Mayor said. The FREE team will be there to continue to help make this ambition become unavoidable reality.

  1. FREE published a blog article on the OLNPP initiative which can be accessed at:
  2. For more information on our publications, please see
  3. Byrne, J., Taminiau, J., Kurdgelashvili, L., & Kim, K. N. (2015). A review of the solar city concept and methods to assess rooftop solar electric potential, with an illustrative application to the city of Seoul. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 41, 830-844. doi://
  4. Translated from the Korean newspaper Kyunghyang (article, in Korean, can be found at:
  5. Byrne, J., Taminiau, J., Kim, K. N., Seo, J., & Lee, J. (2016). A solar city strategy applied to six municipalities: Integrating market, finance, and policy factors for infrastructure-scale photovoltaic development in Amsterdam, London, Munich, New York, Seoul, and Tokyo. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Energy and Environment, 5(1), 68-88. doi:10.1002/wene.182
  6. Byrne, J., Taminiau, J., Seo, J., Lee, J., & Shin, S. (2017). Are solar cities feasible? A review of current research. International Journal of Urban Sciences, 1-18. doi:10.1080/12265934.2017.1331750
  7. Byrne, J., Taminiau, J., Kim, K. N., Lee, J., & Seo, J. (2017). Multivariate analysis of solar city economics: Impact of energy prices, policy, finance, and cost on urban photovoltaic power plant implementation. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Energy and Environment, , n/a. doi:10.1002/wene.241

PennSEF Pioneers Clean Energy Financing for 35 Municipalities

LED Rose Garden at Dongdaemun Design Plaza, Seoul, South Korea Learn more

Pennsylvania Treasury Department and FREE partner in an innovative LED street & outdoor lighting solution that enables 35 municipalities in the Philadelphia area to achieve a triple bottom line:


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