12 Key Issues That Will Define Offshore Wind's Success in Korea



In the face of the climate crisis, offshore wind power is globally recognized as a key component in the energy transition. South Korea, surrounded on three sides by the sea, possesses favorable geography for offshore wind and exceptional industrial capabilities in relevant sectors such as steel and shipbuilding. Despite these strengths, South Korea's deployment has been marked by inconsistency and obstacles. 

This report highlights the challenges facing South Korea in achieving its 2030 offshore wind power deployment goals, in the absence of a proper policy framework and societal consensus. It identifies key issues, presents evidence, and suggests solutions to resolve these challenges to unfold the country's substantial offshore wind potential.

Executive Summary

This report examines critical issues that must be addressed for the successful expansion of offshore wind power in South Korea as a means to tackle the climate crisis. The report outlines 12 specific challenges and their corresponding solutions under five main areas, as summarized below.

1. Government-Led Zoning System: 

The current regulatory process, characterized by a non-planned site system, is increasing project uncertainty. To tackle this issue, the implementation of a government-led zoning system is necessary. This, in turn, would necessitate a developer auction system aimed at reducing offshore wind costs. Additionally, the efficient integration of pre-existing projects into newly designated government zones would be crucial.


2. Permitting Issues:

The existing offshore wind permitting process in Korea is inefficient, leading to costly and unpredictable projects that require the introduction of a single unified channel for reviewing all required permits. The Ministry of National Defense's operability review is particularly challenging due to its national security dimension. Moreover, the establishment of a centralized digital platform for collating and disclosing detailed site and spatial data collected by the government is needed to reduce business and site uncertainty further.

3. Acceptance: 

Stakeholder acceptance is crucial for accelerating offshore wind deployment in South Korea. However, there are no formal criteria clearly distinguishing stakeholders, leading to conflicts. Communication with fishing communities is considered inadequate, and the current benefit-sharing model with local communities has limitations in place.

4. Grid Integration: 

The national grid faces physical limitations in transmitting offshore wind-generated power from key generation areas to the capital region and plans for grid expansion are under discussion. However, the implementation is inevitably slow under the unbundled power market system as well as a policy framework that lacks thorough consideration for raising community acceptance. 

5. Infrastructure and Supply Chain: 

For the timely deployment of offshore wind, proactive development of infrastructure and supply chains is imperative. Systematic training of the offshore wind workforce, combined with the establishment of a domestic offshore wind supply chain and port development, could foster sustainable coexistence between local communities and offshore wind.

Key findings

  • To expand offshore wind power in Korea, issues in the following five areas need to be addressed: 1) government-led zoning systems, 2) permitting, 3) stakeholder acceptance, 4) grid integration, and 5) infrastructure and supply chains.

  • This report has identified 12 specific issues and solutions within five primary areas amid numerous challenges confronting South Korea for the country to achieve its 2030 offshore wind deployment target, aligning with the Paris 1.5 pathways.

  • South Korea urgently needs a national roadmap—comprehensive planning, a crucial aspect that is yet to be seen—for the timely and effective deployment of offshore wind power.

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