Under the scheme, which came into force on 1 January, the 13 power companies that operate plants over 500MW will have an obligation to buy renewable energy. For 2012, the green electricity quota is set at 2%, rising by half a percentage point until 2016 and by one percentage point after that.
"The purpose of the RPS is to increase dissemination of renewable-energy facilities and related industrial development in Korea," Kim Sang Joon of Kemco, the government agency that will administer the RPS system, said. "Wind power is an important energy source for the implementation of the legal obligation."
While it remains to be seen whether the RPS will be more successful than the feed-in tariff it replaces in boosting wind-power growth, South Korean companies are likely to get more involved in wind as the government pushes them to claim their place in the global offshore wind sector.
In November, the government gave further details of a $9 billion investment it announced last year for 2.5GW of offshore wind by 2019. "The government plan to build offshore wind-power projects is going to have the effect of increasing the competitiveness of some South Korean manufacturers in the global market, using the technology and skills set they gained in the shipbuilding and heavy industries," said Kyu Bang, CEO of Auctus Investment Partners. "As a cleantech fund we are always on the lookout for good investment opportunities and wind power is one of the sectors that we are closely monitoring."
At the European Wind Energy Association's offshore industry gathering in Amsterdam last month, at least four South Korean companies were present with plans for offshore wind turbines of 3-7MW. Testing will take place from 2013 in Korean Yellow Sea waters.
Established manufacturers take the government's objective to make South Korea the world's third-largest country in terms of offshore wind-power generation very seriously, given the size and reputation of its major industrial groups.