South Korean President, Moon Jae-in, announced a major shift towards renewables, including offshore wind, and a phasing out of nuclear and coal generated power on Monday.
Moon promised to scrap existing plans for new nuclear plants and will not extend the life of old reactors. This is a globally significant turnaround for South Korea, which counts as one of the top nuclear producers in the world.
The announcement was made during an official ceremony for the permanent shutdown of Kori-1, the country’s oldest nuclear power plant which has been operating for 40 years. In his speech, Moon said he will focus on developing solar and offshore wind power and described renewable energy as the new engine of growth.
"The shutdown of Kori-1 is the beginning of a nuclear-free energy country, a paradigm shift for a safer Korea," Moon said.
Moon’s announcement is expected to ensure that Korea delivers on its current climate target of 37 percent by 2030 as outlined in the Paris agreement. On Friday, at the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) meeting, Moon mentioned a 20 percent renewable energy target by 2030.
Greenpeace has issued a statement supporting Moon's position after campaigning against nuclear energy in the country. Daul Jang, Senior Climate & Energy Campaigner at Greenpeace East Asia (Seoul), said: “Wind and solar energy will account for over a third of the world's power generation by 2040 so President Moon’s promise to prioritize renewables as a source of national growth provides great hope. We can only expect this to strengthen the competitiveness of the Korean industry, both nationally and internationally.”
South Korea received first electricity generated by an offshore wind farm in September last year. The power was generated by three out of the ten 3MW turbines installed at the 30MW Tamra offshore wind farm off Jeju Island.
The project is being developed by Tamra Offshore Wind Power owned by Korea South East Power. The wind farm’s turbines were manufactured by Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction.
Once fully commissioned by September this year, the farm will generate 85-thousand megawatts of electricity per hour, enough to cover the needs of 24,000 average South Korean homes.
The government of Jeju plans to build five more offshore wind farms by 2022.