Fishing, fission & friction
The challenges facing Offshore Wind in South Korea
In this section the Offshore Wind trends and developments in an individual country are analysed. This issue takes a closer look at the challenging political landscape in South-Korea.
The European Offshore Wind industry is not without its challenges – political uncertainty amongst them – but these are simple in comparison with the struggle facing the development of renewable energy in South Korea.
Charles Chulwoo Ahn, Managing Director and CSO of LCI Industries Corporation, represents Damen in the country. He says there are three main obstacles for the industry to overcome. “First of all there is discontent about the idea of Offshore Wind amongst the local population – especially in regions where fishing is a major industry. There is often overlap with fishing areas and sites that are candidates to host wind farms. This has the potential to cause political conflicts between central and regional authorities.”
Politics plays its part in all three of the issues it turns out. Another hurdle for offshore wind energy is the government’s predilection towards nuclear energy. “It was the former President, LEE Myung-Bak, who turned the focus on nuclear power and increased investment in that direction,” says Mr Ahn. “After Fukushima in Japan there was a turn towards solar and wind power as solutions for the future, but the low cost of nuclear energy soon saw most politicians turn back in that direction.”
The third issue, as might be expected, relates to the military situation in the country. “Technically the Korean peninsula is a war zone,” Mr Ahn explains. “Therefore, there are many radar bases and the military are concerned at the prospect of wind turbines jamming signals.”
There is discontent about the idea of Offshore Wind amongst the local population – especially in regions where fishing is a major industry.
Despite these issues and the fact that there are currently no commercial wind farms operating in the country, a number of test sites have been installed, with more planned for the future. The construction at these sites has been carried out using floating cranes and crane barges, as opposed to specialist Offshore Wind Vessels. Mr Ahn is hoping to make the case for Damen vessels for future projects.
“We have promoted Damen Offshore Wind Vessels to the Korean market during the past 4 years via seminars, conferences and exhibitions. There are virtually no companies or contractors here that have experience of the sector so this can be difficult. However, some of the major companies are interested in the idea of using the proven vessels of the European experience.”