Equinor tests South Korea for floaters

The Norway-based oil major is probing South Korean waters to find out whether building an 800MW floating offshore project off the country's south-east coast is feasible.

The 30MW Tamra offshore wind farm off Jeju Island is Souh Korea's biggest offshore project to date (pic: Korea South-East Power Company)

Equinor is using offshore Lidar – a laser light method for measuring distances under the sea by illuminating the bedrock with lasers and reading reflections with a sensor – to test the feasibility of floating wind off the coast of Ulsan, South Korea.

The two Lidar buoys delivered by RPS will be moored 80km out to sea and will collect wind and wave data to determine the project’s viability. 

Equinor is one of several companies aiming to build projects in South Korean waters, including a consortium comprising EDPR, Aker Solutions and WindPower Korea, which wants to build a 500MW floater, also off Ulsan.

Separately, Macquarie's Green Investment Group and Energy Infra Asset Management plan to develop a three-phase 1.4GW project off Ulsan; and WindPower Korea is developing three further offshore projects with a combined capacity of 1.2GW.

Equinor is also part of a consortium with the Korea National Oil Corporation and power company Korea East-West Power to develop a 200MW floating wind project, again off Ulsan.

South Korea plans to add 49GW of renewables by 2030 — 17.7GW of wind power and 36.5GW of solar — to take increase the total share of renewable sources on the grid to 20%.

To date, South Korea has 884MW of wind online but offshore wind accounts for just 38MW of its total capacity, according to Windpower Intelligence, the research and data division of Windpower Monthly. 

The Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) predicts 560MW of offshore wind will be built off South Korea by 2024.