〔News〕Virtual GTI Program x Taipower D/S ONE Green-Tech Featured Speech!

13 JULY 2020

enlightenedThe 21st century has become the “century of the environment”. #Greentechnology has become a hot topic recently and now it is part of our 2020 GTI program.

This year, we were honored to have Ms. Y.H. Horng as our speaker for our featured speech on green technology with the help of our partner: DS/ONE. Ms. Horng graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Marine Biotechnology and Resources and received European joint master’s in Management and Engineering of Environment and Energy. She is currently an Energy Advisor at UPWellEE, an innovative environmental and energy education firm that aims to activate people’s curiosity about the place they live in.

During the speech she talked about energy transition’s why’s, what’s and how’s and energy transition in Taiwan. The topic was so intrigued and there was a one-hour Q&A section!

Check out Ms. HORNG’s talk below:

Introduction to the Energy Transition

Green Technology has been the hot topic of the 21st century. For our second featured speech, we have invited Ms. Y.H. Pauline HORNG, currently an energy transition advisor of UpwellEE to give our students and introduction to energy transition. On Friday our team went to Taipower’s D/S ONE for the featured speech where we met with Sunny, the corporation manager of Taipower D/S ONE.

D/S ONE is the first green energy exhibition hall in Taiwan. It contains the Power Lab where the company holds their events and their lab space. Two other very important areas of the D/S ONE project are the robot arm VR and also Energym where visitors use their body to produce energy. Shortly after Sunny invited Ms. Pauline to take the stage.

Ms. Pauline’s firm works on the activations of the public’s interest in energy and the environment through innovative forms such as gaming, DIY workshops, onsite learning and beach cleanups. She also added that she has an additional job at another firm who works with collaborations with non-energy professionals. Her research fields include energy transition, green buildings, climate finance, social innovation and making energy transition sexy.

Her speech focused on the what why where, who and how of energy transition. Energy transition is the decarbonization of the energy systems. Its aim is to fight climate change which has caused droughts, major forest fires and floods around the world. This transition will take place in industries but the most important is buildings and mobility. Moving towards more energy efficient green buildings and transitioning away from fossil fuels and to electric, rentable cars and motorcycles. However, as the public knows, this transition as any other change comes with challenges. One of the biggest challenges in transition being, the generation vs demand.

Ms. Pauline mentioned that energy transition 2.0 are the cool and new ways of making the transition happen. These cool transitions include, sector coupling and power-to-x. In short, this involves the integration of energy systems based on renewable energy. In addition, a very important part of the energy transition is the digitalization of the energy sector. Digitalization comes with many benefits for example, virtual markets, dynamic pricing and even flexible demand of the energy.

She believes that one of the biggest problems within the transition are misinformation, there is extensive communication gap between the researchers and the public. This miscommunication causes misconceptions in the public i.e. fake news the can potentially give the public a feeling of injustice.

This brings the importance of introducing energy transitions as something fun and sexy. Various methods that have currently been implemented were mentioned such as the energy transition coloring book, renting motorcycles, electric cars like Tesla and finally crowdfunding (money), the buying of solar panels and receiving back a cashflow of 6-8%.

Pauline concluded with the question “Who?”. Of course, this transition includes world governments and private sectors but most importantly it included YOU. With this final statement, Ms. Pauline freed the stage for the interns to share their opinions, ideas and questions about the topic which led to an hour of interactive Q&A.

✨ Review of the event:

✨ Other events:

✨ Q&A Section:  

  1. What does Taiwan do to inform people about reducing energy consumption? How do they motivate them to follow it?  For example here in Spain there are special times when electricity is less expensive (night and early morning)(Sofia Strukova, Russia)

    There is no motivation towards reducing consumption in Taiwan because the price of electricity is very cheap. Taiwan’s electricity rate is actually one of the cheapest in the world. So this is a big problem in Taiwan. This is why it is important to think of how we can make energy consumption sexy for people to want to reduce their energy consumption. A lot of times there's this stigma where climate change and energy transition means sacrifice or something negative  for example, you cannot eat meat or take a plane somewhere. 

    I think the idea of making it fun and sexy is the way to go because we need the entire public to be onboard. Take for example this coloring book, if we had a Trump supporter who doesn’t support climate change, if he would actually pick this book up and flip through it at least would make a difference even if he doesn’t agree with everything the book says. Also take for example, crowdfunding websites where you can buy solar panels and you get an interest rate of 6%, this is something that people who don’t care about climate change would still invest in. So in my opinion, making the idea very attractive is the way to go because we need everyone. I have worked with a lot of people from the political science field, economists and especially designers and graphic artists to  make this coloring book happen. My role in it is actually to explain these really technical and complex information into a very simple and accessible story for these designers, so that they can actually draw these things out and translate these scientific knowledge into something that anyone can understand. 

    So I think this is one part that all of us as engineers really should try to work on in a way so that  this is interdisciplinary. The work you are going to do, the sector you are going to be in, it is going to require a lot of interdisciplinary skills.

  2. Do you have any projects to make greener recycling?(Liliya Plaksina, Russia)

    I personally don’t have recycling projects but i know that in Taiwan they are really good at recycling. They can recycle a normal coffee cup. If you were up here, you actually can’t recycle them because there is a thin layer of plastic within this paper cup which is actually really hard to recycle. In Taiwan however, there is this technology that separates these plastic from paper cups.

    I don’t have these kinds of recycling projects but there has been a lot of talk on how we recycle solar panels because in Germany it is actually already kind of towards the end of the 20 year incentive on solar panel installation on the rooftops of houses. There is a lot of talk on how we recycle these panels. Offshore wind energy kind of started a little bit later but there is a lot of talk about it as well. Interesting thing is that offshore wind or wind turbine developers and base manufacturers don't really care about recycling these things even though they are renewable. 

    The fundamental part of these businesses is they just want cost down and to make as much profit as possible so it is actually important to make it into regulations. I know that in Taiwan right now they just added another policy that they already asked you to pay another 1000 NT dollars to these solar panel schemes when you are owning them. So this 1000 NT dollars is for the future recycling of these panels.

  3. We know the sun is not a continuous source of energy, is it possible to put some energy storing device in space for continuous energy supply? If yes, how can we transport that energy from space to earth? (Masood Ahmad, India)

    That is an interesting question, because there is a lot of energy in space coming for the sun. There is actually this concept where you have this gigantic kind of mirror in space where it concentrates the solar power and sends it back to the earth. I would imagine it's either by some sort of radio waves or solar thermal power such as  concentrated solar power. 

    Basically they will have all these spheres with  this central tower and then there is salt at the top of these towers that when the sunlight reflects all the sunlight heads to the top of the tower where the salt melts. They can use this method to power turbines and produce electricity. So I do feel that there is a way to make use of the space. I think rightnow what is lacking is technology but if we have the money it is possible. 

    So from my understanding, we cannot store the energy right now like from renewable energy?

    So what I just mentioned on the slides from Power to X  is a way to store energy. So normally we think of storing energy in batteries, phones or scooters but that is one way of storing electricity, the chemical way. I also mentioned Power to hydro which is another way of storing electricity. You pump the water up when there is excess electricity then you use that to produce hydropower electricity when you need it. 

    There is also Power to Hydrogen where you use these excess electricity to turn water into hydrogen which is one of the cleanest energy sources because once you burn the hydrogen the remainder is just air and water.

  4. What are future possible energy storing devices?(Masood Ahmad, India)

    This again goes back to Power-to-X. I think water and hydrogen are both ways of storing energy. Look at your vehicles, they are also a way of storing energy. Hopefully there is a way of making batteries cheaper when the technology is there because I would like to have a battery in my house connected to a solar panel. Actually my phone is kind of powered by solar panels now because I have a portable solar panel on my window that I put out every day and then I charge it to my cell phone and power-bank. 

    So hopefully it will get cheaper but I think it is important to  be creative because there are so many ways of storing energy. Imagine everything that moves requires energy and also produces energy. By different heights you can store energy with different kinds of chemicals. I think you are all engineers who know that motion can also store energy.

  5. How good are dams for the environment? As I have studied there are several negative impacts also. (Jhalak Gupta, India)

    That's why I don't actually consider dams as renewable energy because to me renewable energy is actually forces that are coming from a renewable source such as solar or wind which are sources that keep coming. So biomass I wouldn't consider it as a renewable source, it could be a carbon neutral source,  and there is nuclear which is not really renewable because you still need to dig  and then there's a limit to the resource of uranium. There are a lot of environmental concerns for dams. It's not the best renewable source but it could be used as a way to store electricity.

  6. Do you think electrons can be seen as renewable and possibly an alternative for green technology?(Shubham Dikshit, India)

    That does sound very futuristic. I've never thought about it but I definitely think that it is possible. I think that anything is possible. I am not sure where the technology is at now with electrons as I am  little bit far from this field but I do believe that if you can imagine it that there is probably a way to do it and it will be really cool. I look forward to maybe hearing that in the future.

  7. Is there any possible way by which we can generate electricity at home? for charging phones, power banks apart from using solar energy?(Masood Ahmad, India)

    There is definitely a different design of turbines that you can use at home. it's smaller and looks a little bit different. I think it is called a vertical turbine. Other than this the only other I can think about is geothermal energy . Geothermal could be the way to go but it is going to require a lot of construction and money. I would definitely think solar panels are maybe the easiest way but there is one thing you might also consider, a thing called energy coop. 

    This is basically you get together with your community and then you together invest in a solar farm or a wind farm. This has been done a lot in Germany especially with farmers because they have a lot of land and they would come together  and manage the wind farms themselves. So this is one way you can also make sure you bring electricity to your house and also manage it and be part of the transition. 

    I'm a bit interested in how thermal energy can actually generate power if I am at home?

    It is pretty much connecting geothermal electricity to your home. so maybe next to your home if you have a land or something that you can dig through and then install geothermal power there could be a way. It is probably going to be expensive.

  8. Renewable energy is usually very pricey. How can we promote this renewable energy more in our society?

    I highly recommend you guys, to get the energy transition going. There is a chart where it talks about the subsidy of the different energies. There is a misconception that renewables are very very expensive but in-fact when you look at this chart and you look at the amount of subsidies that the government is giving to transitional energies compared to nuclear power  and different sources of fossil fuels it is just a small portion. There are so many subsidies, and just a small portion goes to renewables combined. 

    That is why we think that renewables are really expensive because they are not getting as much subsidies as all these traditional energies but having said this, actually in Germany at-least, solar power electricity is already comparable among all the traditional energies. At the end of 2008 I think at the beginning of last year, the first no subsidy, offshore wind farms were also auctioned. This means that these offshore wind or wind developers are already developing these wind farms without any subsidy; they can do it themselves, without any help from the government. In the UK there is actually a case called Hinkley Point where there was a nuclear power plant in the process of building and then they actually stopped it and turned it into wind energy because the amount of money that needs to be invested into nuclear power plants is actually much higher than wind power. 

    If anyone tells you renewables are expensive tell them all the stuff I told you. Renewables' prices in general right now especially solar and wind, are getting very comparable, and their cost is going down fast.

  9. Is it possible to produce a fluid that sparks at night? so that we can put it in trees or plants? Or something like enzymes?(Masood Ahmad, India)

    Yes. You know those glowing sticks; maybe that can be a solution. There sometimes can be simple solutions especially in places that are still in the process of developing. We see very creative and innovative projects being done for example, there's this case I think it was in Africa where they don't have light bulbs in their rooms nor do they have electricity. So one thing that they did was to take a clear water bottle and drill a hole into the roof, then put this water bottle in the roof. It is so smart because you now have a sort of light from your rooftop since it  reflects the sunlight into the room and this is a really simple yet quite effective way to transform their lives. It doesn't alway have to be high tech.

    Another example, in Bangladesh, they actually have the highest density or numbers of solar rooftops in the world but not everyone has entered that. So how do you actually? I am producing electricity from a rooftop and I don't use it that much so I can sell it to vendors just down my street. How do I do that without the internet? In Bangladesh they do it through their phones.  It doesn't even have to be through a smartphone. So basically you dial in and you have your account numbers and your passwords and then you just dial in and it will ask you how much electricity you want to sell to this person. So you just dial in and press the few buttons they have on their not smart phones and they can sell and produce electricity.That is just genius because you don't need the internet or fancy stuff  that we use to make this happen. I think this is something to think about.

  10. Apart from solar is there any other source type that can be feasible for installation in public areas or may be in apartments?(Bibhas Nalinikanta Dash, India)

    There are also a few really non-commercial designed electricity producing trees. So there are a lot of designs out there and they can be installed in public areas. For example, there is a design that looks like a tree and each of the leaves on the tree can generate power when the wind flows through. There are a lot of these different designs because these are popping up and a lot of people on the road are trying to explore the different ways of utilizing the wind, the sun and different ways of generating electricity other than fossil fuels. I can recommend a website called It is a really cool website. I have followed for about 10 years and they have really cool designs and concepts up there. It is not always commercial but I think it really inspires people to also do something on your own and to be creative while doing it.

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