Efforts to privatize ‘wind’ in Jeju Island have become a topic of controversy. While large companies are jumping in to take control of Jeju Island’s wind power business, controversy is snowballing over the use of wind as a profit-making resource. On Feb. 26, Jeju council’s committee for wind power generation reviewed 6 wind power business zones and designated 5: Seogwipo City Pyoseon-myun Gasi, Jeju City Gujwa-eup Gimnyeong, Aewol-eup Uh-eum (conditional contract), Hallim-eub Wolryeong, Sangmyeong as these zones. The sixth zone, Seogwipo City Sumang zone is under additional deliberation.
The committee decided on the 6 zones last July and announced their capacity at 85MW. In October of that year, the committee announced a change of capacity to 146MW. Jeju government is planning to officially announce the wind power generation zones by March 21, and plan for follow-up procedures some time after that.
The problem is that large corporations are planning to control the wind power generation zones. SK D&D is in Gasi (30MW), GS E&C and Hyundai Securities Co. is in Gimnyeong (30MW), Doosan Heavy Industries and Construction is in Wolryeong (24MW), Korea Midland Power is in Sanmyeong (21MW), Hanhwa E&C is in Uh-eum (20MW). POSCO is currently participating in Sumang (21MW). Although in some zones local businesses, the village community and farming cooperatives are also participating in the wind power business, major companies with capital and technology are taking the lead. The reason for large corporations’ participation in the wind power business is government standards that require a certain portion of their more than 500MW production to come from renewable energy.
South Korea’s three major steel makers including POSCO, Hyundai Steel and Dongkuk Steel are fiercely competing over high value-added thick plates that are used for offshore structures, according to sources in the steel-making industry Tuesday.
POSCO has been implementing its strategies of increasing sales of high value-added steel products for marine structures since last year.
Notably, POSCO is promoting sales strategies of selling steel products for ship-building purposes in packages. The company has recently decided to supply its thick plates for the construction project of fixed platform awarded to Samkang M&T, the nation’s special steel-pipe provider.
South Korean shipbuilder Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI) and the state-run Korea Southern Power Corporation (KOSPO) are on track to build the nation’s first large-scale offshore wind farm in Jeju Island. SHI announced that it obtained an order from its special purpose company (SPC) to build 12 units of 7-megawatt (MW) offshore wind turbines.
Earlier last month, SHI partnered with the KOSPO and established an SPC, namely, Daejeong Offshore Wind Power. SHI plans to complete construction by the end of 2014 and start commercial operation from 2015. SHI’s 7MW offshore wind turbines boast the world’s largest power output and their power generation efficiency.
The Jeju Special Self-Governing Province, in conjunction with the central government, has announced its “Carbon Free Island Jeju by 2030” plan which aims to make the island carbon free and self-sustainable through renewable energy resources by 2030.
According to the Jeju Special Self-Governing Province Smart Grid Division, the government body responsible for the implementation of this plan, the “Carbon Free Island Jeju by 2030” project will be executed in three steps: first, Gapado will become a carbon free island and a model for the rest of Jeju by this September. Second, by 2020 Jeju will run on 50 percent renewable energy. And thirdly, by 2030 all of Jeju will be 100 percent carbon free.
“By 2020 Jeju’s goal is 50 percent of all its energy will be renewable,” said Lee Ji Hoon of the Smart Grid Division. “By 2030, 100 percent of [the island’s] energy will be renewable [and] the government hopes that Gapado will be a model.”
“If the Korean government’s proactive wind power policies go hand in hand with drastic investment by relevant companies and efficient R&D projects, the wind power industry will create synergy with Korea’s world-class technologies related to shipbuilding, automobiles and the heavy industry. This will catapult Korea into the ranks of the world’s wind powerhouses in the near future,” Dr. Rim-taig Lee, Chairman of Korea Wind Energy Industry Association (KWEIA) said. KWEIA has been at the forefront of globalizing Korea’s wind power companies. They have signed MoUs with global wind power associations such as American Wind Energy Association (AWEA, Stephen Miner, Senior Vice President of AWEA), RenewableUK(CEO, Maria McCaffery), the Danish Wind Industry Association (DWIA, Jan Hylleberg, CEO of DWIA) and Innovation Norway(President & CEO, Gunn OVESEN).
Nations around the globe are busy working to attain renewable energy sources. The global wind power market, which witnessed installed global wind capacity increase to 40.2 GW in 2011 (up 6% from 2010), has been on a steady upward trajectory: The new global total at the end of 2011 is 238 GW, representing cumulative market growth of more than 20%,which is certainly a respectable figure for any industry in this economic climate, even though it is lower than the average over the last 10 years, which was about 28%.
Korea also has set its sights on offshore wind power projects. The Korean government is speeding up the construction of wind power turbine test beds to vitalize the offshore wind power business in the South and Yellow Seas. At the Global Wind Day Networking Seminar held on June 15, Jae-Yong NamKung (Deputy Director of New and Renewable Energy Division of the Ministry of Knowledge Economy (MKE)) said, “The construction of a 100 MW wind power test bed in Yeonggwang County (a county in South Jeolla Province) will be completed in June of next year, a year earlier than the initial schedule.”
Global tension over rare earth metals — often identified as rare earths — has intensified as the United States, European Union and Japan recently teamed up and took it up a notch in pressuring China over persistent trade disputes.
Last month, the trading power players filed a complaint at the World Trade Organization challenging the world’s largest rare earths supplier to remove its export restrictions on the scarce elements used in high-tech goods.
As China continues to tighten its export policy, Korea, a resource-poor country with strong demand for rare earth metals for its high-tech manufacturing, is attempting to stay the course with its biggest trading partner while at the same time, catching up with other nations in the search for alternative reserves.
Korea has been slow in securing the resources, since it’s been importing semi-processed materials rather than raw supplies. Currently, 80 percent of the imports come from China, and the rest from France and Japan.
Korea generated about 472 Billion Kilowatthours (BkWh) of net electricity in 2011, up by an estimated 3.9% in the previous year. Of this amount, 65% came from conventional thermal sources, 34% came from nuclear power, and roughly one percent came from renewable sources. Although thermal capacity is dominant in Korea at present, nuclear power is set to expand over the next decade, along with significant investment in offshore wind farms.
Korea holds only 139 million short tons (MMst) of recoverable coal reserves. Consumption reached 126 MMst of coal in 2010, while production was less than 3 MMst. As a result, Korea is the third largest importer of coal in the world, following only Japan and China. Australia and Indonesia account for the majority of Korea’s coal imports. Coal consumption increased by over one-third between 2005 and 2010, driven primarily by growing demand from the electric power sector. The electric power sector accounts for more than half of coal consumption, while the industrial sector accounts for most of the remainder.
Meanwhile, Korea has announced that it will spend 40 trillion won by 2015 in a combined investment by the public (7 trillion won) and private sector (33 trillion won) to cultivate renewable energy resources, the Ministry of Knowledge Economy said. In this way, the country will be able to become one of the world’s top five powers in renewable energy, the ministry added.
In particular, the government aims to nurture solar energy and wind power industries as the “next semiconductor” and the “next shipbuilding” industries to take up 15% of the global market share by 2015. In the private sector, 20 trillion won will be injected in solar energy, 10 trillion won in wind power, 900 billion won in fuel cells and 900 billion won in bio.
The ministry estimated such investments will generate 110,000 new jobs and increase exports of renewable energy by US$36.2 billion by 2015. The size of the global renewable energy market stood at US$162 billion in 2009, and is expected to grow to US$400 billion by 2015 and to US$1 trillion by 2020.
Washing machines and refrigerators have joined the ranks of smart devices. This means computerization, improving efficiency and protecting the environment. This focus is shifting to electricity, as experts tackle effective distribution from power plants to consumers.
The grid needs to incorporate renewable electricity production from a multitude of distributed sources and be capable of matching electricity supply with demand at the point of real-time usage.
“Smart grids are being found everywhere. Governments and firms are busy investing more on them. The key point is that the market is growing and Korea is taking on a bigger role,’’ said an expert on the area, Park Geun-min. Park said smart grids are a means to modernize existing power networks, an alternative pursued by governments to address energy independence and global warming issues.
Despite South Korea’s efforts to cut its dependency on Chinese supplies of rare earths used in hybrid cars and wind turbines, imports of those materials from China rose last year.
According to Korea Customs Service (KCS), Korea imported 282 tons of rare earths from China, last year, about 78 percent of 360 tons in total. This marks a 13 percent rise from a year ago.
The international price of rare earths was quoted $17.93 per kilogram in 2010 but it soared to $56.6 per kilogram in 2011 due to escalating demand from many countries and this caused Korea to source more from China’s rare earths, which are relatively cheaper ($51.69). The nation’s dependency on Chinese supplies of Magnesium also rose to 99.2 percent from 98.9 percent.
South Korea will establish a new think tank that oversees the country’s “green growth” drive aimed at seeking economic growth by boosting environment-friendly technologies and industries, a presidential committee said Thursday.
The “Green Technology Center,” set to launch in March, will coordinate and support green growth policies of related ministries and agencies and help boost cooperation between research centers home and abroad, the Presidential Committee on Green Growth said. The committee was to report the center’s establishment to President Lee Myung-bak on Thursday.
A task force comprising the top researchers at the Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST), the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) and the Korea Institute of Energy Research has been working on the establishment, it said.