Centre for Energy Alternative (CEA) is a grass-roots organization that seeks a transition toward renewable energy. Fossil fuels are behind the oil crisis and energy war and their use has wreaked havoc on our common ecosystem through climate change. Atomic energy is not sustainable either, since it is dangerous and it leaves behind nuclear waste that is difficult to dispose of. In the meantime, renewable energy is sufficient enough to meet human needs, distributed widely, inexhaustible, and green house gas-free. As energy sources are being exhausted and our ecosystem hangs in the balance, renewable energy is the only solution and it will also promote the solar economy and give a much-need economic boost to local communities.
CEA is geared toward replacing the mega-scale, concentrated system that used fossil fuels and nuclear energy with the smaller, diversified system that has opened its chapter with renewable energy. CEA alerts civic society on the severity of the energy crisis and the urgent need for energy conversion. CEA brings energy conversion closer to reality by helping citizens take the lead in expanding the use of renewable energy.
CEA was first conceptualized through "Renewable Energy Forum for Sustainable and Peaceful Society" jointly held by Korea National Commission for UNESCO and Korean Federation for Environmental Movement (KFEM) in April, 1998. The Forum then developed into the civic organization, Centre for Energy Alternative, which was officially launched at Sejong Center for the Performing Arts, Seoul, Korea on October 5, 2000.
CEA has first opened the way for those Korean citizens concerned about energy exhaustion and climate change to generate electricity through various forms of renewable energy such as solar, wind and small hydro power and gain returns on this investment through selling electricity. CEA set up a citizens' solar power plant, the very first of its kind in Korea, in Buam-dong, Seoul in May, 2003, followed by a 3kW solar power plant in a farmhouse in Ansong and a 3.85kW one on the rooftop of Changbi Publishers. Power plants of this sort will continue to build on the rooftops of Buan Catholic Church, Buan Won-buddhist Temple, Kookmin University, etc. A growing number of citizens and CEA will make investment in building citizens' power stations and make contributions to energy conversion.
CEA has actively engaged itself in improving laws and institutions to promote renewable energy (e.g. revising "Act on Promotion of New and Renewable Energy") In particular, CEA has visited various key government agencies such as the Electricity Commission, the Korea Power Exchange, and the Korea Electric Power Corporation, to point out weaknesses in regulating and practicing the sales of renewable energy and, more importantly, to drive changes for the better. To further expedite institutional improvement regarding renewable energy, CEA has organized debates that include "Energy System Conversion and Renewable Energy" in February, 2002 and "Inquiry into Act on Promotion of New and Renewable Energy--in time for the First Anniversary of the Act's Revision" in November, 2003.
CEA has carried out research activities and proposed various policy options to stop the further expansion of nuclear energy and catalyze a shift from supply-oriented energy policy. It has held various review as well as brainstorming sessions: "Critical Review of Energy Policy in Korea" in November, 2002; "Future Direction of Energy Policy in Korea" in May, 2003; and "How to Select the Ground for Nuclear Waste Disposal" in December, 2003. Meanwhile, the CEA has involved in the discussion as to how the electricity industry should be reorganized so that the resulting change would contribute to the expansion of renewable energy.
CEA has hosted "Courses in Renewable Energy," "Energy Alternative School," "Classes for Ecological Life and Energy," and "Energy Education for Environmental Activists with Kyobo Foundation for Education and Culture." CEA has operated the 2.5-ton educational vehicle, "Mobile Solar Energy School," to undertake outreach work through schools, kindergartens and various environmental events to demonstrate that our daily life can be well sustained by renewable energy. Since 2004, CEA has also offered "Solar Energy Classes in the Woods" to help children understand the mechanism and significance of renewable energy with ease and joy.
Since its inception, CEA has held various international conferences: a symposium, "A Shift from Petroleum Age to Solar Economy," with The Hankyoreh Daily in April, 2001; "International Conference for Energy Conversion in Asia" with Korea National Commission for UNESCO in October, 2001; a workshop, "Solar Construction and Energy Conversion," with Korean Federation for Environmental Movement, Gwangju in October, 2003; and Asia regional conference, "Renewable Energy and Peace," with Korea National Commission for UNESCO in August, 2004.
CEA has learned from best practices by visiting civic groups, private R&D agencies and corporations overseas and extended the depth of exchange with global environmental groups by attending various international forums that include COPs, IPCC.