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Derek Chung '12

Environmental Engineering | Green Charge Network

Derek Chung '12

You work at Green Charge Networks, a company that focuses on sustainability. Could you elaborate on your work in energy storage and how you see it fitting into a renewable energy future?

Green Charge Networks focus on a renewable energy future lies in the realm of energy storage. I believe that energy storage is the key piece in transitioning to a renewable energy future. With renewable energy technology, such as solar and wind, being inconsistent sources of energy, we are working with channel partners to pair solar photovoltaics with energy storage. This will provide the grid with the capability to utilize clean energy generation sources in a stable and robust manner. As we scale, we will be able to function as a virtual power plant, creating clean energy competition to fossil-fuel burning power plants in times of high energy demand. In addition, as electric vehicles become more popular and replace gasoline-powered engines, we will see energy storage as a solution to mitigate the electric load demands coming from EVs. Ultimately, I believe in the immediate future, energy storage is crucial on two levels: capturing and returning stable and reliable renewable energy to the grid as well as compensating for the electrical demand expected from electric vehicles.

What got you interested in the renewable energy aspect of sustainability?

While I was an undergrad at UC San Diego, I took a series of classes that informed me about the impact of greenhouse gases on the environment. I saw the energy sector as something quite fascinating that I wanted to be a part of. I originally started my career in the environmental engineering industry; however, I saw a real career growth opportunity in the renewable energy sector, so I applied to Green Charge Networks. I knew energy storage would be a game changer in the renewable sector because of a professor named Jan Kleissl. He was also an advisor to Engineers for a Sustainable World, an organization I participated in to a great extent. He advised my senior project team when we worked with the Center for Sustainable Energy to model the use of second-life batteries from electric vehicles as a method to reduce peak demand charges. I believe that experience and knowledge helped me get to the dream job I have today.

In your opinion, why is renewable energy important in sustainability?

Greenhouse gases are being produced by burning fossil fuels to create energy. Renewable energy sources such as solar and wind are an affordable way to reduce greenhouse gases and pollution. As electricity usage and transportation together cause the majority of greenhouse gas production, renewable energy is a key way to target reducing dependency on fossil fuels.

What advice would you give to a student if they wanted to minimize their impact on the environment by reducing energy use/waste?

Bike to a party and turn off the lights everywhere else. Just kidding, but seriously, turn off lights.