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South Korea

South Korea

Market Status: South Korea - Government backing spurs wind growth

SOUTH KOREA: South Korean companies are putting themselves into renewable energy overdrive, with plans this year to invest the equivalent of KRW 4.5 trillion ($4.1 billion) in renewables - up 23% on 2010.

The country is midway towards its goal of building enough wind power capacity to account for 9.2% of its renewable energy mix. Its current installed operating wind capacity stands at 364MW. Experts say South Korea has 5.93GW of exploitable wind energy onshore and as much as 15.48GW offshore. A five-year national plan for green growth over 2009-13 provides the mid-term strategy for implementing the measures, which include targets to increase renewable energy's share to 4.33% by 2015 and to 6.08% by 2020. Hydropower, biomass and waste-to-energy plants provide most of South Korea's renewable energy today.

The feed-in tariff (FIT) price for wind in 2011 is KRW 100.98/kWh ($0.09/kWh), but a renewable portfolio standard passed in 2010 will replace the FIT in 2012. This will enable producers to earn certificates for units of electricity generated from renewables and sell these to electricity suppliers. Certificates earned from offshore generation will be given preference over onshore wind.

Plans for a huge offshore wind farm, financed by the Ministry of Knowledge Economy (MKE), could offer domestic turbine suppliers such as Samsung and Hyundai an opportunity to demonstrate leadership in global offshore wind. Planned installed capacity is 2.5GW. The government sees the companies drawing on expertise in shipbuilding, heavy industry, construction and IT. MKE plans to allocate KRW 9.2 trillion ($8.27 billion) for a 2.5GW offshore project in collaboration with the private sector.

The project, which took two years to research, will build 500 wind turbines off the southern end of the Korean peninsula and will be built in three phases. By 2013, 20 turbines will be installed, all rated at 5MW each, rising to 200 by 2016 and 500 by 2019. European companies with experience in developing offshore wind may be recruited as the project progresses.

MKE is considering whether to provide funds for other wind projects - including on Jeju Island, where most installed wind capacity is located. South Korea's largest island has some of the country's best wind resource but imports about 30% of its electricity from the mainland.

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