Korea to Boost Wind Energy Sector

Solar energy and wind power will be strategic industries leading Korea’s economy, with the government deciding to invest W40 trillion in the renewable energy field by 2015 in partnership with the private sector so they can take the place in the nation’s economy semiconductors and shipbuilding had in the past (US$1=W1,122).

The plan was announced in the ninth meeting of the Presidential Committee on Green Growth chaired by President Lee Myung-bak on Wednesday. Korea has lost the head-start in the solar and wind energy market to advanced economies and China, so the government devised a plan to catch up through huge investment.

The government will invest W7 trillion and the private sector W33 trillion over the next five years in new renewable energy to make it the main export industry for the next generation. About W1.5 trillion will be spent on developing 10 major original technologies such as thin film solar cells, and another W1 trillion on localizing technologies to make parts, material and equipment for wind turbines production.

The government also plans to nurture 50 globally competitive firms in the renewable energy sector that it sees as capable of reaching exports of over US$100 million a year. It aims to expand exports to US$36.2 billion a year, increasing Korea’s global market share in the renewable energy market from 4-14 percent to over 15 percent.

South Korea is planning a $7.8-billion offshore wind farm complex that will initially feature 200 5MW wind turbines. South Korea has a target for renewables to provide 11% of the country’s primary energy (not just electricity) by 2030.

South Korea is the world’s tenth-largest consumer of energy, and its greenhouse gas emissions have doubled since 1990, partly through the heavy use of coal. Korea’s electricity generating capacity has increased by 50% over the past decade, and now stands at 73 GW, most of which is coal, natural gas and nuclear power, and an additional 32.4 GW are planned to become operational by 2022, including 12 nuclear, 11 LNG and seven coal plants.

‘New’ renewables only provide around 0.25% of all electricity generated, according to Korea’s Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO). 2009 saw the installation of 112 MW of new wind power, bringing the total wind farm capacity to 348 MW.

However, South Korea has a target for renewables to provide 11% of the country’s primary energy (not just electricity) by 2030. A new bill was passed in March 2010 that requires utilities to increase the current share of renewable energy in their total power generation (excluding large hydro) from the current 1% to 4% by 2015, growing to 10% by 2022.

Wind energy development in Korea will also be facilitated by the fact that several major international companies including Samsung, Daewoo and Hyundai have recently entered the wind turbines business.