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Orsted pledges opportunities for Korean offshore wind industry

Orsted Asia-Pacific president Matthias Bausenwein (center) speaks to participants of Orsted 2020 Offshore Wind Industry Promotion Forum held at Conrad Seoul, located in Yeouido, western Seoul, Tuesday. (Kim Byung-wook/The Korea Herald)
Orsted Asia-Pacific president Matthias Bausenwein (center) speaks to participants of Orsted 2020 Offshore Wind Industry Promotion Forum held at Conrad Seoul, located in Yeouido, western Seoul, Tuesday. (Kim Byung-wook/The Korea Herald)


Danish energy firm Orsted on Tuesday held a forum to explain how its 1.6-gigawatt offshore wind farm project to be built in the waters off Incheon can contribute to South Korea’s infant offshore wind power industry and the country’s ambitious green targets.

At the Orsted 2020 Offshore Wind Industry Promotion Forum held at Conrad Seoul, in Yeouido, western Seoul, Orsted Asia-Pacific President Matthias Bausenwein said that the Incheon offshore wind project will offer massive opportunities for local suppliers and support Korea’s Green New Deal initiative, which aims to roll out 12 gigawatts of offshore wind power capacity by 2030.

“The Incheon project, which will cost up to 8 trillion won ($7.2 billion), is expected to create 10,000 to 11,000 high-quality jobs annually. An offshore wind project like this should have about 600 contracts big and small, which is a lot of business opportunities for our (local) supply chain,” Bausenwein said.

With 100-140 wind turbines planned to be installed 70 kilometers off the coast of Incheon, the offshore wind farm will be able to generate electricity for 1.3 million households annually and curb 4 million metric tons of carbon, which is equivalent to the amount of carbon emitted by 1.9 million cars, according to the company.

As to why Orsted decided to expand to Korea, it answered that though Korea’s wind speed isn’t as strong as that of other countries, its strong supply chain allows the project to achieve price competitiveness and become commercially viable. After breaking ground in 2025, the offshore wind farm is scheduled for a commercial operation in 2026.

When an attending lawmaker asked whether Orsted could provide empirical data that the company’s wind turbines don’t affect the maritime and fishing environment, it didn’t offer a straightforward answer.

“Regarding worries and rumors that wind turbines create negative impacts, we cannot really confirm any of these, but will find the right level of compensation or subsidies if fishermen are impacted or feel impacted,” Bausenwein, adding that the closest island is 11 kilometers away and the wind turbines will be installed at 1-kilometer interval to minimize interference with maritime activities.

Asked whether if Orsted will install Korean-made wind turbines, Bausenwein said the company hasn’t decided from which country to source them.

“One of the challenges in Korean market in particular is that there is a very strong desire to localize 100 percent of everything, but for wind turbines, there wasn’t big success. What we need to do is look at the supply chain closely to see where the strength of Korean supply chain is. We have many strong Korean suppliers, but not yet on the turbine sides. If you look to the second-tier and third-tier, there will be lot of components coming from Korean supply chain.”

Officials from potential parts suppliers including Posco, Hyosung, Hyundai Engineering & Steel Industries, CS Wind, Samkang M&T and EEW Korea attended the forum.

“It’s extremely challenging to meet Orsted’s standards. For Korean suppliers, Orsted is a great teacher. Orsted knows that only good parts will allow wind turbines to work properly 20-30 years later,” said an official from Hyundai Engineering & Steel Industries, which supplies substructures of wind turbines to Orsted.

By Kim Byung-wook (kbw@heraldcorp.com)
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