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The Promise and Challenges of Expanding Renewable Energy in South Korea


South Korea stands at a critical juncture in its energy landscape, with a pressing need to transition towards renewable sources. Despite its position as the 8th largest electricity market globally, the country faces challenges in progressing renewable energy, and currently imports 90% of its energy supply. The potential for growth in the renewable sector is promising yet hindered by various bottlenecks.


Optimism Amidst Challenges

While South Korea has the lowest renewable energy mix among OECD nations, there's growing optimism for the future. The country's base of heavy industry stakeholders offers a solid foundation for domestic support, positioning it advantageously compared to other Asia-Pacific (APAC) countries. However, analysts have expressed doubts regarding the feasibility of achieving the targeted 10GW by 2030.


Bottlenecks and Hurdles

Several hurdles impede the integration and expansion of renewable energy sources:

  • Grid Limitations: South Korea's grid infrastructure faces congestion issues, hampering the effective absorption of increased electricity generation from offshore wind farms. This bottleneck often results in curtailment, leading to wastage of wind power.
  • Complex Permitting Processes: The process of obtaining permits for renewable energy projects involves multiple layers of bureaucracy, including state and regional ministries. This complexity contributes to delays and uncertainty in project timelines.
  • Lack of Transparency in Auction Pipeline: There's a notable lack of clarity regarding the timing and size of auctions for renewable energy projects. This opacity creates challenges for investors and stakeholders, inhibiting efficient planning and resource allocation.
  • Asia-Pacific (APAC) Offshore Wind: Rapid expansion has led to a shortage of offshore wind vessels in the APAC market, resulting in escalating rates across vessel categories and new offshore wind vessels are required to overcome these challenges.


Navigating Hurdles

While the path towards achieving the targeted 10GW by 2030 appears fraught with challenges, the country's potential and industry support offer hope for progress.  Efforts to address grid congestion, streamline permitting processes and enhancing transparency in project pipelines are crucial for fostering a sustainable renewable energy landscape in South Korea. Overcoming these hurdles will not only drive the country towards energy independence but also contribute significantly to global efforts in combating climate change.


Empowering South Korea's Offshore Wind and Oil & Gas Growth

With an extensive legacy in the O&G sector and a pioneering role in offshore wind since the inception of the Greater Gabbard Offshore Wind Farm 20 years ago, Clarksons is well-equipped to address the evolving needs of both industries. As global demand for offshore wind surges, we recognise the converging demand in offshore wind and the execution of new O&G offshore activities by 2025/26, leading to an inevitable vessel shortage - an industry challenge and opportunity.

In South Korea, we are committed to supporting local businesses by fostering collaborations, facilitating new vessel builds, managing sale and purchase transactions, and supporting vessel conversions. Our proven track record demonstrates our ability to enter new markets like South Korea, develop robust supply chains, and meet the vessel requirements for offshore wind projects.

Clarksons provides end-to-end support for South Korea's offshore wind aspirations and can navigate the complexities of offshore wind, providing tailored solutions and ensuring optimal vessel procurement and supply strategies.

For inquiries and project requirements, please contact Neil Buchan. Neil's insights and expertise position him to deliver customised support for the success of your specific offshore wind projects.