Solar energy opens new era in Dokdo

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Solar energy opens new era in Dokdo

A new era of solar energy development has begun on the Dokdo islets in the East Sea.

The Dokdo Coast Police Guard started using solar energy for its energy source on the island which was designated a national natural monument in 1982.

“Because a solar energy generating facility has recently been installed on the Dokdo islets, we now use solar storage batteries instead of diesel power generators to run some electronic products, including fluorescent lights, TVs and heaters,” North Gyeongsang Police Precinct Lieutenant Chae Jong-han, 38, said yesterday.

The capacity of the solar energy equipment is 40 kilowatts, which fulfills about 30 percent of the guard’s needs. Starting this year, the Dokdo lighthouse will use 15 kilowatts of solar energy generated on the islets.

When the government adopted a policy to build a clean energy generator in Dokdo in August 2008, Korea Electrical Contractors Association volunteered to undertake the business plan. KECA raised 3 billion won ($2.6 million) in three months from various electric companies and began to build a 55-kilowatts facility in January of last year. With its completion, the association conducted a trial run of the plant on Dec. 23 and the plant soon started operating. As the Dokdo islets have strong symbolic power, technology and material used for the project were Korean.

This environment-friendly plant, which stores electricity generated by sunlight during daytime and distributes it at night, will be responsible for producing about 40 percent of all electricity on the islets.

Kim Hyun-gil, 44, the lighthouse operator, said, “Since the new year began, we had sunny weather only on Jan. 2. It’s quite regrettable that Dokdo lacks sunshine during the winter.”

Until last year, 170,000 liters (45,000 gallons) of diesel had to be shipped into the Dokdo islets yearly in order to use diesel power generators that produced 145 kilowatts of energy. With the use of new solar energy generators, the islets are now able to decrease their carbon dioxide emissions.

Although KECA planned to hold opening ceremonies upon the completion of plants on Jan. 1, it delayed the date indefinitely due to the harsh winter weather.


By Song Yee-ho [enational@joongang.co.kr]

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