Petroleum and natural gas giant Shell now plans to establish a 1.4GW floating offshore wind farm in South Korea after expanding the deployment in renewable energy during 2019 by fully acquiring floating offshore wind turbine supplier EOLFI.
Shell has established the joint venture MunmuBaram with CoensHexicon, and holds 80% of shares, where the remaining 20% is held by the latter, who is a joint venture between South Korean company COENS and Swedish company Hexicon.
According to the plan, this wind farm will be situated at 65-80km off the coast of Ulsan in the eastern region of South Korea, with an installed capacity of 1.4GW, and is expected to generate 4.65TWh of power each year after completion that will provide electricity for 1 million households. The wind farm is currently under the “feasibility evaluation” phase. Shell Offshore Wind Asia General Manager for Joe Nai commented that offshore wind power is an essential segment in clean energy for both South Korea and the world.
South Korea aims to become a country of zero carbon emission by 2050, and the ratio of renewable power must rise accordingly from 7.6% in 2017 to 20% in 2030. The country also plans to develop 12GW of offshore wind power prior to 2030.
However, the Pacific Ocean has deeper waters, while the wind farm is situated at a water depth of 120-160m, thus traditional fixated wind turbines are not applicable since they are usually established at shallow waters below 50m. Consulting company Carbon Trust pointed out that wind farms further away from the coast can benefit from more stable wind energy, which means a higher level of power generation efficiency for floating wind turbines.
Shell strives to transform into a zero carbon-emitting energy company by 2050, though it will not yet let go of its leading position in fossil fuels. The company confirmed in February this year that it had arrived at the peak in 2019 for its total petroleum production, with carbon emission also reaching to the highest point during 2018 at 170 million tons each year.
Shell is not the first company to focus on floating wind farms. Norwegian energy giant Equinor had established the Hywind floating wind farm with an installed capacity of 30MW back in 2017, while RWE also signed an agreement with Kansai Electric Power last month on the study of the feasibility for a development in extensive floating offshore wind power along the coast of Japan.
Nonetheless, this particular wind farm is still under a feasibility evaluation as mentioned above, and no one knows if it will actually be established at the end. EOLFI also drafted a plan regarding offshore wind power in Taiwan back in 2017 that is named W1N Offshore Wind Power Development for Taoyuan of Taiwan Strait, though the results of the preliminary environmental assessment believed that the wind farm may impact the northern flight space and overlap with the direct flight path between Taiwan and China, which is why the scheme was disapproved at the end.
(Cover photo source: Flickr/Kim Hansen CC BY-SA 2.0)