Korean Consortium Moves Fast in Ontario

The Korean Consortium, which signed a green energy investment agreement with the province of Ontario on Jan. 21, has begun negotiations with several established wind energy and solar power manufacturers to expedite the development of four facilities: wind tower, solar inverter, solar module assembly and wind blade manufacturing.

The new green energy infrastructure is expected to generate more than 16,000 new jobs in manufacturing and construction, as well as in auxiliary sectors, such as architects, professional services and transportation.

"Since the landmark agreement signed on Jan. 21, we have been advancing discussions with leading makers in all four areas, including solar module assembly and wind blades, to help fast track the establishment of North America’s first green-energy manufacturing sector," said Sung-ha Chi, Samsung C&T Corporation President and CEO.

As part of its commitment to make Ontario the go-to market for green energy component suppliers, equipment manufacturers and operators, the Korean Consortium signed a memorandum of understanding with leading wind tower maker Dongkuk S&C to establish a manufacturing facility in the province. It is also in advanced discussions with Canadian solar inverter manufacturer, Satcon Technology.

The consortium estimates that more than 16,000 jobs will be created through the establishment of 2,500 MW of solar and wind power. The new jobs include full-time permanent employment at four manufacturing facilities, as well as thousands of additional jobs created in construction, engineering, operations, maintenance and other spin-off industries.

According to consortium estimates, the $7 billion investment in Ontario will result in the following employment opportunities:

– 3,140 jobs including KC and its partners manufacturing and other related jobs as well as in engineering, operations, maintenance and other spin-off employment
– 7,800 construction jobs
– 5,660 spin-off jobs (for example: architects, software development, legal services, trucking, steel-making, facilities management, accounting and financial services)

The Korean Consortium will facilitate all project operations, overseeing the entire process of establishing the wind and solar power cluster, procuring equipment and financing, as well as designing and connecting the transmission and distribution system in operating the facilities. The Ontario government will provide some assistance in securing land for the construction of cluster installations and provide facilitation support for the project while also purchasing the produced electricity.

In a release from the Society of Energy Professionals, Rod Sheppard, the organization’s president, claims the Ontario government did not adhere to procedure in inking the deal.

"Ontario has everything required to build and operate a greener electricity system," says Sheppard "We have the wealth, we have the entrepreneurs, we have the innovation, we have the skills and expertise, and we have the will. Why is the premier [Dalton McGuinty] cutting his own deals with government-owned and -supported Korean conglomerates?"

Though the Samsung promise to create more than 1,400 permanent jobs sounds promising, Sheppard says, they will likely come at the cost of control over a substantial part of Ontario’s electrical system.

"Ontario has a procedure for acquiring more wind and solar power – a procedure this government itself set up for the purpose," he remarks. "Where was the request for proposals? Why does Samsung get to do an end-run around the process Ontario businesses are required to follow? How fair is that?"