In December of 2021, at the Yongsu-ri coastline on the western part of Jeju, the small science rocket ‘Perigee Blue Whale 0.1’ with a height of 3.2m and weight of 51kg soared into the sky. This was the first private-sector test rocket launched in Korea. Blue Whale 0.1 that pierced through the skies of Jeju, leaving behind trails of red lights three times during the day and night, was the flare that signaled the ‘Jeju’s Space Age.’
After two years after the launch of Blue Whale 0.1, the Jeju Special Self-Governing Province office is preparing for the next stage. While constructing satellite infrastructure that can provide integrated control of national satellites on the one hand, it is also preparing to establish Korea’s first private sector maritime launch pad. Through this, plans are to make Jeju the central area that will lead the New Space Age and the Korean space industry.
Korea’s top tourist destination Jeju, famous for Hallasan Mt., dol hareubang, indigo oceans, and tangerines, is striving to be reborn as the outpost of the New Space Age that will lead the Korean space industry.
▲ Korea Satellite Operations Center
The Korea Satellite Operations Center was also built in Gujwa-eup of Jeju-si. The Korea Satellite Operations Center is a national facility that opened in November of last year for the integrated control and management of low-orbit national satellites.
Its primary roles are control, reception, image processing and distribution of national satellites in low orbit. It is currently operating Arirang 3 and Arirang 3A transferred from the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) National Satellite Information Utilization Support Center. Including Arirang 5 which is slated to be transferred and one next-generation mid-sized satellite in June of this year, it plans to operate a total of 70 satellites by 2030.
Low-orbit national satellites are satellites that orbit Earth in close proximity, and they are primarily used for exploring resources, sea and weather observation, photo-reconnaissance, etc. These are crucial resources in terms of national security and future new growth industries. The reason why the Korea Satellite Operations Center that provides integrated control of this being located in Jeju was because of the unique geographical features of Jeju.
The most important thing for satellite observation is radio wave cleanliness. The intensity and quality of satellite signals can change depending on radio wave cleanliness. Two main factors determine radio wave cleanliness. They are mountains or buildings that directly block radio waves and mobile communication company radio waves that can interfere with satellite signals. Jeju has significantly higher radio wave cleanliness compared to other regions. Besides Hallasan Mt., no large mountains and relatively few radio waves can interfere with satellite signals.
A spokesperson from the Korea Satellite Operations Center explained, “In other areas, there might be around five out of 100 times that there is interference with satellite communications, but this number is close to zero in Jeju,” and added, “It is the optimal place for receiving satellite signals.”
▲ Hydrogen Charging Station
Meanwhile, Jeju-do is rising as a hub city of ‘green hydrogen.’ The green hydrogen demonstration project ranging from the production of green hydrogen to its actual use is expected to go into full swing in the first half of this year. Korea’s first commercialization of green hydrogen is just around the corner.
According to Jeju-do, the demonstration complex for producing green hydrogen at Gujwa-eup, Haengwon-ri and Korea’s first charging station built in Jocheon-eup Hamdeok-ri will begin its first operation as early as the first half of this year. The 3.3MW green hydrogen demonstration complex received a final safety inspection from the Korea Gas Safety Corporation on the 12th of last month. Once it passes the safety inspection, the production of green hydrogen will become possible.
Green hydrogen is hydrogen acquired through the electrolysis of water using power produced with renewable energy such as wind power and solar power. While gray hydrogen and blue hydrogen produced in other areas generate carbon, green hydrogen that will be produced for the first time in Korea in Jeju-do has nearly zero carbon emissions throughout the entire process from production to consumption, and is therefore called a grade 1 clean hydrogen.
The first demonstration complex of Jeju-do's green hydrogen production complex is located in Gujwa-eup, Haengwon-ri, also home to Manjanggul Lava Tube and Bijarim Forest. This is also where the Haeng-won Wind Farm, the first successful commercialization of wind power generation in Korea in 1998, is located.
Jeju-do, the top in the nation in renewable energy generation ratio, had increased the generation ratio every year and recorded an average of 19.1% in 2022. The problem is that there is excess production of renewable energy, thus requiring production to be forced off. While renewable energy production is highest in the spring and fall, energy consumption demand is relatively smaller. Therefore, this issue with renewable energy must be solved urgently.
That is why Jeju-do is being proactive in green hydrogen production based on renewable energy. By using renewable energy, which is difficult to store for an extended period, to produce hydrogen that can be stored in large quantities in a fixed tank, it will be possible to continue to increase renewable energy production without concerns about output restrictions.
After the produced green hydrogen is divided and placed in cylinders, three tube trailers are transported to the Hamdeok-ri charging station. Two dispensers are located at the charging station, thus making it possible to charge up two buses simultaneously. It is a similar format to that of an LPG charging station. The charging method is also similar. The charging time per vehicle is about 15 minutes, and up to 8 buses can be charged in one hour.
Jeju-do commissioned nine hydrogen buses last year. Once green hydrogen is produced, routes from the Hamdeok-ri bus turnaround stop, where the charging station is located, to the arboretum will be operated. Plans are to add 11 more hydrogen buses in the second half of the year; thus, 20 buses will be in operation next year. In addition, charging stations will be added at each hub point until 2030.
▲ Jeju UAM (J-UAM)
The Jeju Provincial Office is looking to commercialize ‘Jeju UAM (J-UAM)’ by 2025. Through this, it plans to grow into an airport city complex that integrates key technologies such as eVTOL (propellant), batteries, AI (artificial intelligence), automated driving, etc. needed for all sectors of the UAM industry.
The Jeju Provincial Office aims to begin flying tourism J-UAM by 2025. It plans to organize routes centering on Jeju International Airport to the Jeju coastlines, key tourist attractions, and other islands such as Mara-do, Gapa-do, U-do, and Chuja-do.
Experts agree that Jeju is the optimal area for the commercialization of UAM. In particular, it was evaluated that Jeju has sufficient tourism content that can offset the expensive rates during the early commercialization period of UAM.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.net)
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