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[H.eco Forum] Orsted drives Taiwan's renewable push with Asia's largest offshore farms

By Moon Joon-hyun

Published : May 14, 2024 - 13:47

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Christy Wang, chairperson of Orsted Taiwan (Ørsted) Christy Wang, chairperson of Orsted Taiwan (Ørsted)

Orsted, a company that has transformed itself from one of Europe’s most carbon-intensive power generators into a global leader in green energy, is now seeking to lead the charge against climate change in Asia.

In anticipation of the H.eco Forum 2024, scheduled to take place on Some Sevit in Seoul on May 22, The Korea Herald spoke with one of the session speakers, Christy Wang, chairperson of Orsted Taiwan, to discuss the company’s journey, its contributions to Taiwan's offshore wind sector, and some lessons Korea can glean from these experiences to advance its own renewable energy goals.

Orsted's transition began in the late 2000s when it was one of Europe's most coal-intensive power generators.

"The company boldly decided to become a green energy company, believing it made sense financially, environmentally, and strategically," Wang said.

Her involvement with Orsted Taiwan was driven by her passion for renewable energy and Taiwan's need for energy security. She joined Orsted in 2017 after personally researching the company's initiatives in offshore wind and its commitment to renewable energy. Before Orsted, Wang had extensive experience in governmental affairs, marketing, and communications.

The Greater Changhua 1 and 2 offshore wind farms are key projects for Orsted in Taiwan. Completed in April this year, these are the Asia-Pacific region's largest offshore wind farms. Located 35-50 kilometers off the coast of Changhua County, they consist of 111 Siemens Gamesa turbines with a total installed capacity of 900 megawatts, enough to power 1 million Taiwanese homes.

"These represent a significant milestone in Taiwan's transition to renewable energy, doubling the country's offshore wind capacity," Wang said.

She explained that Taiwan's geographical and economic conditions make it suitable for offshore wind power. The Taiwan Strait offers high wind speeds and shallow waters, ideal for seabed-fixed foundations. Additionally, the Asia-Pacific region's manufacturing capabilities in neighboring countries like Korea provide significant support.

“Navigating through numerous challenges, including those posed by the pandemic, our team remained on track,” Wang said.

Orsted's additional investment in the 920MW Greater Changhua 2b and 4 offshore wind farms aligns with Taiwan’s goal of generating 20 percent of its electricity from renewables by 2025. Orsted aims to support Asia-Pacific decarbonization with its offshore wind expertise and expects to contribute around 2 GW of offshore wind capacity toward Taiwan’s goal of 5.6 gigawatts by 2025.

Looking ahead, Orsted plans to deliver up to 5 GW of offshore capacity in the Asia-Pacific region by 2030. Wang emphasized the importance of regional collaboration in achieving this goal.

“Recognizing the unique strengths each market contributes, collaborating across the APAC supply chain ensures we leverage the specific capabilities and proven track records of individual markets. This approach allows countries to focus on their strengths rather than trying to handle the entire offshore wind value chain on their own,” she said.

Looking toward Korea, Wang also sees substantial opportunities. Orsted’s 1.6 GW Incheon project highlights this potential.

“Korea has solid conditions for offshore wind with consistent wind speeds and high power demands, particularly in coastal cities,” she said.

“What really sets Korea apart in the region is its well-established offshore wind supplier base, complete with manufacturing know-how and a skilled workforce. We’ve seen great results working with Korean suppliers in our global projects over the past decade. Partnering with reliable local suppliers from the start is a significant advantage,” Wang added.

The Korean government’s green goals include 14.3 GW of offshore wind capacity and a 40 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

Wang touched upon several immediate steps for stakeholders to advance green energy goals, as detailed in Orsted's "Asia Pacific -- Path to Progress" white paper. She emphasized that it all came down to creating a long-term enabling environment. “By securing a solid project pipeline and unlocking market volumes, we can really maximize economies of scale, cut down risks, and attract more investment,” she said.