South Korea to Build World’s Largest Tidal Power Plant

Plans are well underway for a tidal energy power plant off the South Korean coast that developers say will be the largest such project in the world. Known as the Sihwa Tidal Power Plant, the project would generate 260 MW from the constant flow of water in and out of a seaside bay.

The tidal power plant, with a total project cost of approximately USD $250 million, would be the first of its kind in South Korea and the largest in the world, according to the developers and companies involved. The project will consist of a powerhouse for 10 “bulb-type” turbines with direct driven generators including gates and other equipment. The output of each turbine and generator will be 26 MW (total 260 MW installed capacity). The power plant is designed to be operated in one direction from the sea to the Sihwa Lake, allowing up to 60 billion tons of seawater to be circulated annually. In doing so the plant will generate electric power by using the head between the high tide and the reservoir level. Equipment contracts are already underway for the project’s main components. VA Tech Hydro, an international supplier of equipment and services for hydropower plants, was awarded an order from Daewoo Engineering & Construction for engineering and delivery of the electromechanical main components for the world’s largest tidal power plant – the Sihwa Tidal Power Plant – in South Korea. The Korea Water Resources Corporation (KOWACO) is the governmental water authority of South Korea and acts as the project developer / owner. Daewoo, as leader of the Korean joint venture with other civil companies, is the project’s main contractor. VA Tech Hydro will carry out the detailed design for the turbine / generator equipment as technology provider while at the same time being responsible for supplies and services with respect to the electro-mechanical portion as sub-contractor of Daewoo. Additionally, the company will supply all the major equipment for the turbines and generators. Not only will the project generate power, but VA Tech Hydro said the existing water quality of the Sihwa Lake will be significantly improved. Due to industrial facilities taking process water out of the lake and releasing waste water into it, the zone has over and over again been the subject matter of discussions during the past years. Regularly flushing the Sihwa Lake with sea water was identified as an acceptable method of remediation, according to the company. It was obvious that such an investment would only be cost-effective, if the operator simultaneously gained profit out of the energy production of a tidal power plant. The Sihwa Lake Tidal Power Plant is set to open up a new chapter in the domestic alternative energy development as South Korea plans to significantly increase spending on alternative energy sources in the coming years. The country expects their share of alternative energy to be increased from 1.4 percent to 5 percent by 2011. The project expected to be completed by 2009.
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