Imagine a new Korean society where Koreans are not desperate for oil any more. In that world, our government officials won't be shaken up by oil-producing countries when they have international meetings. We would probably be happier in some way because we have our own energy sources and don't have to beg for oil any more. The renewable energy industry is surely the hottest issue in the whole world. However, it is a more urgent and important issue in Korea which has been relying on foreign countries for energy sources for a long time.
New and renewable energy is a term which includes new energy sources such as fuel cells, hydrogen energy and clean coal energy such as Coal-to-Liquid and Gas-to-Liquid technology, and also renewable energy sources such as sunlight, water, and wind power. Song Jin-soo, the president of the Korean Society for New and Renewable Energy and a researcher at the Korea Institute of Energy Research says: "In foreign countries, people usually mention renewable energy, but Koreans use the term 'new and renewable energy'. So, we can say Korea includes more diverse types of energy than other foreign countries."
Therefore, there are really many types of ways to make renewable energy. People just need to select some ways which fit to our circumstances. Dr. Song says: "So, what can we do to select our main methods Above all, we need to approach the subject with an understanding of the amount of resources we have. It can be the power of sunlight or wind. Second, we are required to consider our collective experience, skills, and skilled manpower. Third, we should check our compatibility in being able to compete with foreign companies in an aspect of cost and technology." That means that we need to work hard to guarantee energy sources and supply energy indefinitely.
Dr. Song emphasized that Korea should focus on developing core technology to advance into the world market. While we earned foreign currency based on production in the past, now is the time to earn it through advanced technology about renewable energy. That is green growth. To make our country be powerful in a new and renewable energy field, the most important thing is to put several different aspects of renewable energy together and help each other. Dr. Song said: "We cannot assert what is the most important aspect for our economy boost. All these parts have one important similarity - they are all dependant on weather. That means each one is not perfect by itself and they only become stable to supply energy when they work together. We need to approach renewable energy with this idea."
In addition, Dr. Song pointed out that a regional network is necessary in this market. The EU is a good example. For renewable energy, there is an agency called the International Energy Agency (IEA). However, agencies like this are rare in this field. Moreover, they place some restrictions on membership qualifications. They require applying countries to be registered in the OECD and have a certain amount of oil storage, and so on. Because of all these restrictions, the IEA is functioning like the playground of a few developed countries. Even though Korea recently entered the agency, Korea still cannot voice its own opinions. For this reason more and more people have started to claim that we should have a real international agency about renewable energy.
In April 2008, representatives from more than 60 countries met in Berlin, at the invitation of the German Government, to discuss founding that kind of organization. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) would be an intergovernmental organization for promoting the adoption of renewable energy worldwide, and it is to be founded in early 2009. And Korea is expected to have a loud voice here.
Dr. Song finally advises: "We also need to consider our next generation, teenagers, because they will be the real users of new and renewable energy. Hence, we have to educate and promote renewable energy to them."
Korea has a long way to go to be a powerful country in the field of renewable energy. However, as many experts agree, Korea is definitely competitive to be a leading country in the field of renewable energy. We can say that all the countries including many developed ones are on the same starting point, even some highly developed countries such as the US and Japan. Therefore, all we need to do is to find more bonds with international groups and develop technology to achieve our own core technology in this field by helping each other, domestically and internationally.