Floating offshore wind power makes headway in South Korea

Shell-led joint venture secures licence for first stage of 1.3GW floating wind project, while city signs MoUs with German developers

MunmuBaram started carrying out wind measurement campaigns off the Ulsan coast in 2019

Project plans for floating wind off the coast of South Korea's Ulsan region are moving fast. The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy has granted an electricity business license (EBL) to MunmuBaram, a joint venture between Shell (80%) and CoensHexicon (20%), for the first 420MW of a planned 1.3GW floating wind project off the Ulsan coast.

Meanwhile, Ulsan Metropolitan City has signed memorandums of understanding (MoUs) with German developers RWE for 1.5GW and BayWa for “several gigawatts”.

MunmuBaram has been carrying out groundworks for its project, such as wind data measurement campaigns, since 2019. In September, it completed geotechnical and geophysical surveys. Now it has the EBL, meaning it has exclusive development rights for the project, it will move forward with an environmental impact assessment (EIA), marine traffic survey, cultural heritage inspection survey and other activities, it said.

Subject to future investment decisions, the MunmuBaram project will be developed in phases. Once fully constructed, it is expected to generate up to 4.2TWh of clean electricity a year.

YoungKyu Ju, the project director of MunmuBaram, said: “Acquiring the electricity business licence is a key enabler for the MunmuBaram floating offshore wind project which could, if realised, provide renewable power to over 1 million Korean households."

Under its agreements with utility RWE and renewable energy developer BayWa, the City of Ulsan will provide support to the companies, especially during the planning and permitting phase. RWE said after consultations with the relevant authorities, associations, and local community, a feasibility study will be conducted to define its plan for floating offshore wind projects off the Ulsan coast.

For its projects, BayWar said it would also be working with Hyundai Heavy Industries, which unveiled plans for semi-submersible floating foundations for 10MW offshore wind turbines in July. It will also collaborate with Sejin Heavy Industries, as well as Korea's national energy agency and hydrogen industry association, the company added.

Earlier this month, Equinor announced an agreement to cooperate with state-owned power generation company Korean East-West Power on 3GW of floating wind. South Korea is aiming for 12GW of offshore wind by 2030.