South Korea has announced $A56 billion plans to build the world’s largest offshore wind farm, an 8.2 gigawatt project off the coast of Sinan in the Yellow Sea, as the government puts flesh on the bones of its 2020 pledge to go carbon neutral by 2050.
The massive 48.5 trillion won project was signed off on late last week by South Korea president Moon Jae-in and a group of utility and engineering companies that will develop the wind farm, including Korea Electric Power Corp, Hanwha, and CS Wind Corp.
The government said the companies would provide the vast bulk of the finance for the project – 47.6 trillion won ($A55 billion) – while the government would stump up the remaining 0.9 trillion (roughly $A1 billion).
The project follows closely on the October 2020 unveiling of South Korea’s Green New Deal, a pledge to invest billions in renewable energy and electric vehicles, phase out coal by 2030, put a price on carbon and put a complete stop to coal financing of any kind.
“With this project, we are accelerating the eco-friendly energy transition and moving more vigorously toward carbon neutrality,” Moon said at the wind farm ceremony on Friday.
Offshore wind, in general, is expected to be a big part of the government’s plans, with Moon previously declaring his intention to make South Korea “one of the world’s top five offshore wind energy powerhouses by 2030.”
But there is plenty of work to be done to ween the country off coal. At this stage, South Korea sources only about 6 per cent of its energy from renewables, while coal-fired generation provides roughly 40 per cent of its electricity, and nuclear around 25 per cent.
According to Reuters, citing Moon’s office, the Sinan project is expected to provide up to 5,600 jobs and help achieve a goal to boost the country’s wind power capacity to 16.5GW by 2030 from 1.67GW now.
Officials said last week that the planned 8.2GW wind farm would generate the equivalent amount of energy as that produced by six nuclear reactors.
Currently, the world’s largest offshore wind farm is the 1.2GW Hornsea Project One, off the coast of the UK. This is expected to grow, however, with Hornsea Project Two proposing to add another 1.4 GW of capacity, Project Three another 2.4GW, and the as-yet undecided capacity of Hornsea Four expected to take the entire project to up around the 8GW mark.
Australia’s first and only offshore wind farm, which remains in the very early stages of planning and development, is the 2GW Star of the South project, planned for waters off the coast of Gippsland in south eastern Victoria.