Shell is looking to develop an offshore floating wind farm in South Korea

If built, the project would be located in waters off the coast of Ulsan, South Korea.

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A joint venture centered around the development of a massive offshore floating wind farm in waters outside of South Korea has been formally established.

Major oil and gas company Shell has an 80% stake in the JV, called MunmuBaram, with the remaining 20% ​​owned by CoensHexicon. The latter is a joint venture between COENS, headquartered in South Korea, and the Swedish company Hexicon.

In a statement earlier this week Shell said the project was in what it described as “a feasibility assessment stage.” If built, the 1.4 gigawatt wind farm is located between 65 and 80 kilometers from Ulsan, a coastal city and industrial center in the southeast of the country.

The water depth for the proposed installation, which would be developed in phases, ranges from 120 to 160 meters. It is expected to produce as much as 4.65 terawatt hours of energy annually, feeding more than 1 million households.

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“Shell sees offshore wind energy as a key part of a net-zero energy system, both in South Korea and around the world,” said Wednesday Joe Nai, Shell’s general manager for air wind power in Asia.

The formal establishment of the MunmuBaram company comes when authorities in South Korea aim for carbon neutrality by the year 2050. The country wants the share of renewable energy in energy generation to reach 20%. by 2030, up 7.6% in 2017, and aims to develop 12 gigawatts of offshore wind capacity by 2030.

Main players

Shell isn’t the only large company involved in projects focused on floating sea winds. Last month, it was announced that RWE Renewables and Kansai Electric Power had signed an agreement that will see the two companies study the feasibility of a large-scale offshore floating river project in waters off the coasts of Japan.

And in 2017, Norwegian energy giant Equinor opened Hywind Scotland, a 30-megawatt plant it calls “the first large-scale floating wind farm”.

Offshore floating wind turbines are different from bottom-set offshore wind turbines that are rooted on the seabed. RWE describes floating turbines as “deployed on top of floating structures that are secured to the seabed with anchor lines and anchors.”

An advantage of floating turbines is that they can be installed in deeper water compared to the bottoms. As Carbon Trust, a consulting firm, notes, “Sites further from the coast … tend to benefit from a more consistent wind resource, which means that floating wind can provide higher yields.”

While Shell is working on renewable energy projects and says it wants to become a net emission energy company by 2050, it remains a significant producer of fossil fuels. In February, the business confirmed that its total oil production had peaked in 2019 and said it expected its total carbon emissions to peak in 2018, at 1.7 gigatonnes per year.

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