SoarTech research head honored with award for his twenty years of dedication
Setting the Standard for a Sustainable Future
Lee Gil-sung, head of the SolarTech Research Center, received the prestigious “Industrial Service Medal” on October 15 at the Renewable Energy Korea 2010 exhibition held in Seoul, Korea. His twenty years of dedication was celebrated when the Korea Energy Management Corporation honoured the scientist for his work in solar technology and thin-film solar cells.
Lee entered into the industry in the early 1990s, when he joined the Solar Energy Project Team at LS Industrial Systems. At the time, Korea was in the nascent stages when it comes to solar energy technology. Only lighthouses and other special purpose buildings used the technology. The concept of solar power and renewable energy, as we know them, did not even exist. That did not deter Lee, though. He had never ceased believing that future belongs to solar energy.
At LS, he supplied solar energy power generators to homeowners in remote areas, the first such attempt in Korea. On another note, he successfully led field research in building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV).
Leading the Industry with BIPV
In July 2000, he joined hands with former employees of LS to create SolarTech. Since then, the chief researcher has been fully committed to developing solar energy power systems. The startup company began work on a series of national research projects from 2001, while opening a new era of sustainable energy by successfully installing 40 home generators powered by solar energy.
It was around this time Lee started to take a deeper interest in BIPV. He felt that solar panels lying around front yards and roofs looked unseemly and began looking for a solution. That solution came from BIPV, a newly commercialized technology in overseas markets at the time. Building integrated photovoltaics is where solar cells have been incorporated into buildings, serving as the building's exterior or skin. BIPV can be placed into facades to act as windows, walls, shading, cladding and into roof structures as solar tiles and solar slates. Indeed, it provides cost-effective and attractive solution.
As public buildings are obligated to install renewable energy facilities, Solartech has set out to develop highly efficient products at reasonable prices in collaboration with construction and window companies. Recently, they have found a way to turn windows into solar panels that can collect electricity, which is called Hi-Per Window BIPV System. The system is expected to prevent energy loss and improve condensation and sound insulation, among others. Its smart-looking thin film solar cells are another plus, in a stark contrast with bulky conventional ones.
Making Inroads into Overseas Markets
Lee pins his hopes on making inroads into overseas markets. Unlike the sluggish domestic markets, the solar energy industry in Germany and other advanced nations has recorded explosive growth year after year. He believes that we should turn our attention to more promising markets when things are not moving fast enough. Korea will witness a great leap in demand by 2015 though, he says, when we will have more efficient and less pricey solar energy systems. More specifically, BIPV will account for 40 percent of domestic market, he added.
The upbeat scientist has an unwavering faith in solar energy. He says that the clean energy source can be a viable answer to environmental issues and energy shortages. “With solar panels, we can directly convert solar energy into electric current. It is a very straightforward technology, and that is its biggest attraction,” he noted. “At the same time, solar panels are very durable and long-lasting, which is an added bonus.”