South Korea’s Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) has approved what could be the mother of all the world’s floating solar energy projects: a plant with a capacity of 2.1 GW to be located on Lake Saemangeum.
The plant’s capacity will make it 14 times larger than the world’s largest floating solar project today, a 150 MW floating photovoltaic project in China’s Huainan province, and equivalent to 1.6 times the accumulated global installed capacity of floating photovoltaic, which was 1.3 GW in 2018, MOTIE said.
Construction of the project is expected to begin in the second half of 2020, once all regulatory approvals are secured, including the environmental impact assessment. It is likely to use more than 5 million solar modules and require an investment of $3.9 billion that opens up numerous opportunities for the local solar industry.
In March 2019, Thailand announced plans to boost 2.7 GW of floating photovoltaic capacity through competitive auctions, but they would be carried out at 16 solar parks on 9 hydroelectric reservoirs. In June 2019, the country’s EGAT issued a call for bids for the Sirindhorn 45 MW floating solar project.
Much more is happening in the floating solar energy sector worldwide, although the technology is in its infancy. The World Bank and the Singapore Solar Energy Research Institute (SERIS) wrote in a study on floating solar energy that there is more than 400 GW of potential for this technology if the world decided to use only 1% of the total available surface.
The South Korean government announced in October 2018 a 4 GW renewable energy complex in the Saemangeum area, with 3 GW of solar power and 1 GW of offshore wind. The country wants to reach a renewable energy target of 20% by 2030 and is planning to increase it to 35% by 2040 with the goal of reducing the country’s dependence on coal and nuclear power.