FREE Facilitates Tour by the Seoul Energy Corporation of U.S. Energy Innovations

FREE facilitated a coast-to-coast tour of innovative energy applications for a delegation from the Seoul Energy Corporation (SEC). Spearheaded by CEO Jin Sub Park, the visiting team included: Jung Min Yu, Chang Woo Cho, and Yong Dae Kim.

SEC is responsible for the supervision of and investment in energy policy programs in South Korea’s capital city of Seoul. In particular, the SEC leads the implementation of the innovative One Less Nuclear Power Plant (OLNPP) initiative which pursues energy reduction targets equal to the production of a nuclear power plant. The visit by the SEC delegation had the goal of observing and learning about innovative, ‘best practice’ energy technology, policy, and financing applications. Lessons learned from this tour might find their way into SEC programming in Seoul.

The tour began with a visit to the San Francisco Department of Environment to go over San Francisco’s climate goals and programming, with a special focus on the CleanPowerSF initiative and new efforts to integrate solar power and storage. CleanPowerSF is the city’s Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) program, which allows cities and counties to partner with their utility to offer clean energy at competitive rates to residents and businesses.

The SEC’s next destination was Philadelphia where it was hosted by FREE at the office of Drinker Biddle & Reath, LLP. The Deputy Treasurer of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a warm welcome letter to the delegation, encouraging the SEC to consider the Pennsylvania Sustainable Energy Finance Program (PennSEF) as a model that could be implemented in Seoul – PennSEF is a partnership program between the Pennsylvania Treasury and FREE.  To illustrate how the work done by FREE could inform the operations of the SEC, FREE team members presented the lessons learned in setting up large-scale energy efficiency, on-site renewable energy, and microgrid applications such as the Delaware Energy Efficiency Bond Series, the PennSEF program’s LED Street Lighting Initiative, and a Philadelphia Solar 86 MWp Finance Opportunity. Specific attention was paid to financing and policy challenges facing the SEC delegation and how some of the innovative elements of FREE’s work could potentially help overcome these challenges. FREE made several suggestions regarding the organization of research for SEC’s Research Institute to consider, based on FREE’s own efforts to integrate a research arm into the foundation’s institutional structure. A copy of FREE’s presentation is included here.

The SEC delegation and the FREE team in Philadelphia. From bottom left to bottom right: Baird Brown, Jin Sub Park, John Byrne, Joohee Lee. From top left to top right: Jeongseok Seo, Chang Woo Cho, Yong Dae Kim, Job Taminiau, Soojin Shin, Jung Min Yu.

Members of the FREE team then accompanied the SEC delegation to Princeton University to discuss their microgrid application and thermal energy storage strategy. The Princeton microgrid system includes a district energy system that provides electricity, steam, and chilled water to power, heat, and cool the buildings on the university campus. In emergency situations, the microgrid can operate independently from the grid – during the 2012 Hurricane Sandy, the system was able to continue operation while the rest of the grid was down.  A key innovation of the Princeton facility is its capacity to sell ancillary services to the utility grid based on an automated control system that calculates optimum economic benefit of the range of services available from its microgrid.

The final leg of the tour involved a visit to an innovative community energy governance model in New York City. The Brooklyn Microgrid is a network of neighborhood relationships which relies on peer-to-peer transactions built on blockchain technology. Operated by start-up LO3 Energy, the transactive system allows for direct interaction between neighbors in trading power to each other without requiring involvement from the utility.

It was an honor for FREE to host the SEC delegation and we look forward to working together in the future.

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