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Shut down school near nuke plants becomes place to experience renewable energy via The Hankyoreh

As the student began forcefully pedaling the bicycle in the first-floor hallway of the former Hangni branch school of Ilgwang Elementary School in Busan on Apr. 5, the blender went into motion. Nineteen on-looking Ilgwang fourth graders gasped in astonishment. They nodded along as it was explained to them that the kinetic energy from the bicycle was being converted into electrical energy to power the blender.The Hangni branch school was shut down in 2006 after the number of students dropped so low that both first and second graders were left sharing the same classroom. After debating what to do with the building, the Busan Metropolitan Office of Education (BMOE) decided to turn it into a center aimed at sharing experiences and instilling lifestyle habits of using alternative and renewable energy sources like solar and wind power rather than relying on the fossil fuels, which are a major cause of global warming.

Another factor was the branch school‘s location – about 8 km from the Kori Nuclear Power Plant complex, home of the world’s densest concentration of nuclear power plants. The decision was that with South Korea’s dependence on nuclear power among total energy consumption growing by the day, it might be more effective for the future generation of elementary, middle, and high school students to visit a school nearby the complex and experience for themselves how they could live full lives without relying on nuclear power.On Apr. 21, the building is set to reopen as the Hangni Climate Change Education Center. The opening comes 10 years after the branch school was closed down. One feature of the center is that the building runs entirely on solar energy. Indoor energy is produced with a solar energy generator on the structure’s roof, while 15 kilowatts of energy produced by a solar heat generator are used for water heating. The center also has solar-powered streetlights. The building was remodeled with a carbon-reducing environmentally friendly structure using recycled resources. It’s a “passive house” designed to prevent indoor energy from leaking outside. The over 500 million won (US$438,000) in project costs were paid by the BMOE from a 2015 metropolitan and provincial office of education assessment prize fund awarded by the Ministry of Education.

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