The World's #1 Renewable Energy Network for News, Information, and Companies.
Untitled Document

Go Big with Homegrown: South Korea To Build Massive Wind Project

How much wind power can you get for $9 billion? According to South Korea, about 2.5 gigawatts, or 71 percent of the total offshore capacity available today.

This past November, the South Korean Ministry of Knowledge Economy unveiled a massive new wind energy project to be constructed along its southwest coast—a project that some people, like energy consultant Alan Nogee, are calling the largest wind project in the world “onshore or offshore.” But just how big is it?

“2.5 GW is an enormous wind farm,” says Sean Casten, CEO of Recycled Energy Development. “In fact, 2.5 GW is an enormous power plant of any power plant type. So in terms of scale, this is nothing to sneeze about; this is a huge investment.”

Steven Kopits, Managing Director at Douglas Westwood, says 2.5 GW is approximately equivalent to “two good-sized coal plants or two biggish units on a nuclear plant.” At that size, it may influence regional energy markets — it represents 2.5 GW South Korea won’t have to import and “can be a meaningful source of power in the region.” But it probably won’t influence the broader global energy market, he says.

Kopits points out that 2.5 GW is the site’s “nameplate capacity” — the maximum generating capacity possible if all the turbines are operating. But wind isn’t always that reliable. As Kopits puts it, “the wind don’t blow all the time.” Actual utilization will probably be closer to 40 percent, he says, or about 1 GW.


Judging by nameplate capacity and the reported 3 – 7 MW per turbine, the South Korean offshore farm will likely comprise hundreds of turbines. Each blade, says Kopits, will probably measure some 60 – 70 meters across or more, making the rotor diameter twice the wingspan of a 747 jet. But it won’t be easy to complete.

The attraction of offshore wind is that it is, well, offshore. Larger, taller structures can be erected without worrying about zoning ordinances and sightlines as the wind tends to blow more consistently offshore.

Yet according to Casten, offshore wind is about twice as expensive as onshore wind, if for no other reason than that offshore wind is, again, offshore.

That complicates politics, as the resulting electricity is expensive; it complicates installation and repair; and it complicates transmission, as cable must be laid to transport the harnessed energy on shore. In fact, everything about offshore wind is expensive. “To go and literally tighten a bolt on an offshore wind turbine is going to cost you a lot of money,” Wu says. “That’s not something you want to do on a regular basis.” 


South Korea has said it hopes to develop wind energy into a “flagship” industry, alongside semiconductors and shipbuilding. While they have relatively little experience in wind energy, South Korea plans to pursue the project using only homegrown talent. “That is a very bold and somewhat risky move,” says Nogee, “but one that will really move the overall industry forward if it’s successful.”

In fact, according to Wu, that’s the real point of the South Korea’s big-time investment: to set the country up as a player in the global wind energy economy. “The point is to create an export industry,” he says.

The companies tapped to take on this project, he says—names like Daewoo, Doosan, and Hyundai—certainly have the ability to do that. These companies represent some of the largest shipbuilding, marine engineering, and heavy manufacturing companies in the world.

At the same time, they are entering an already crowded marketplace at a difficult time for the industry. That’s because the boom in onshore wind turbine installations has caused prices to fall, squeezing profit margins. That’s bad for the suppliers, Wu says, but good for the industry as it makes wind power more affordable. Indeed, electricity from onshore wind is now priced comparably to (though still slightly more expensive than) coal and natural gas. According to research by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, “the average wind farm will be fully competitive [with coal, gas, and nuclear facilities] by 2016.”

As a result, onshore turbine manufacturers in Europe, China, and Japan are looking for new markets. Naturally, they, too, are beginning to invest heavily in offshore wind. Says Wu, there is an opening, but “that’s another challenge that eventually Korean companies will have to overcome.”

Illustration by Paul Samples.

Jeffrey Perkel has been a scientific writer and editor since 2000, when he left academia to join the staff of The Scientist magazine as a Senior Editor for Technology.

This article was originally published on ecomagination and was republished with permission.

Untitled Document

Get All the Renewable Energy World News Delivered to Your Inbox

Subscribe to Renewable Energy World or email newsletter today at no cost and receive the latest news and information.

 Subscribe Now


offshore wind

Hitachi Plans to Add Production Line for Offshore Wind Parts

Chisaki Watanabe, Bloomberg Hitachi Ltd. plans to expand its reach into the market for offshore wind projects by adding a production line to make...
Renewable energy

Leading US ICT Companies Renewables Use at 14%, and Growing

Andrew Burger Electricity consumption in the global information and communications technology (ICT) industry is growing rapidly. An...
Wind farms

Western: Streamlined Environmental Review Process for Wind Farms in Midwest ‘Takes Effect Right Away’

Jennifer Delony Western in an Aug. 26 record of decision (ROD) adopted a standardized process for collecting information and evaluati...

NextEra Commits to Hawaii’s Clean Power Goal, Local Management

Lynn Doan, Bloomberg NextEra Energy Inc. and Hawaiian Electric Industries Inc. made 50 new commitments as part of their proposal to merge ...


Canadian Solar Wins Five Solar Power Projects Totaling 185 MW in Brazil

These power projects were won under a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with the B...

$100 Off of 5-day Advanced PV Project Experience. Download a Topic Schedule.

Assemble, ground, energize, and commission a complete grid-tied SolarEdge system from s...

Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd talks politics of fear vs. politics of hope

Rudd, who led the Australian parliament from 2007 to 2010, told the Summit audience tha...

Intersolar AWARD „Solar Projects in India“ – Applications being accepted until September 18

The Intersolar AWARD in the category Solar Projects in India honors projects in the fie...


Washington, DC Bridges the Solar Gap

The District of Columbia has enjoyed 15 years of strong economic growth. But prosperity is spread unevenly across the...

Sell Through Hypothesis

You first learned to hypothesize, or make educated guesses, in grade school science class. Now it’s time to ref...

Cronimet / THEnergy study: In solar for mines size does not always matter - Reducing CAPEX with energy efficiency and load shifting

Munich, September 2015. Mining companies are constantly gaining interest in solar solutions because frequently solar ...

Final Program Now Available for GRC Annual Meeting & GEA Geothermal Energy Expo

GRC Annual Meeting & GEA Geothermal Energy Expo - Final Program from



Volume 18, Issue 4


To register for our free
e-Newsletters, subscribe today:


Tweet the Editors! @jennrunyon



Doing Business in Europe – in partnership with GWEC, the Global Win...

There is now 128.8 GW of installed wind energy capacity in the EU (appro...

Doing Business in South Africa – in partnership with GWEC, the Glob...

Wind Energy in South Africa has been expanding dramatically, growing fro...

Distributed Wind Energy Workshop

Description: Distributed wind energy is electricity that is produced for...


Clean Energy Patents Maintain High Levels in First Quarter, Solar L...

U.S. patents for Clean Energy technologies from the first quarter of 201...

Koch Professor drops his Koch title, still makes same errors plus s...

The Koch Professor’s title isn’t the only thing that’s...

Fact Check: AWEA represents American wind power

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) is proud of its members for ...


Renewable Energy: Subscribe Now

Solar Energy: Subscribe Now

Wind Energy: Subscribe Now

Geothermal Energy: Subscribe Now

Bioenergy: Subscribe Now