South Korea - New policy set to build on last year's promise

SOUTH KOREA: This could be the year that South Korea starts realising its ambition to become a significant player in wind power. Its large corporations, already globally dominant in shipping, construction and engineering, are taking some bold steps in offshore wind.

Late last year, the Korean government confirmed plans to develop 2.5GW of offshore wind by 2019, with a 100MW test project scheduled for 2014. Korea Electric Power Corporation should develop the projects and Korean suppliers including Doosan, Hyundai and Daewoo will be involved. In January, Samsung Heavy Industries confirmed it would test its 7MW offshore turbine in Scotland.

From 1 January, a renewable portfolio standard obliges the 13 largest utilities in South Korea to buy or generate 2% of their total energy from renewables - rising to 10% over ten years. Onshore wind will receive one renewable-energy certificate, currently priced at $0.035/kWh generated. Offshore wind-farm operators will receive twice as much. Certificates have a 20-year lifespan, which should reassure investors.

The Korean Wind Energy Industry Association aims for 13.5GW by 2025. Installed capacity at the end of 2011, all onshore, stood at 407MW. The only new addition was the 22MW Young Heung wind farm, completed last July in Inchon Ongin-Kun.

The bulk of future growth should come from offshore wind. A government official told Windpower Monthly last December that "there is not enough space" on land for significant wind-power deployment.