The South Korean government is considering building a wind farm around the Northern Limit Line (NLL) in the Yellow Sea as the project can offer economic benefits and serve its purpose to create a "peace zone" in the Yellow Sea.
According to the government, the wind farm will help it attain its Renewable Energy 3020 Action Plan, which is to increase the share of renewable energy in the nation's energy supply to at least 20% by 2030.
In addition, the project can lead to job creation, technological development, investment and business model development, given that advanced technology, manpower and capital are required for the construction of the wind farm on the sea.
The wind power industry and the shipbuilding equipment industry share a lot of manufacturing processes for towers, blades and gearboxes, and, as such, the two sectors can benefit together from the project. Fleets and ports are essential during structure transport, which means the regional economy can be boosted on the transport and structure installation sides.
In addition, the project can contribute to North Korea’s power supply conditions. As of 2015, the North’s total power generation capacity was 7,427,000 kW, approximately 7% of South Korea’s. Besides, the North is currently heavily dependent on hydroelectric and thermal power generation.
Furthermore, the two Koreas can anticipate carbon credit trading via the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) from the wind farm. In fact, North Korea already signed a contract with a Czech company to sell its carbon credits obtained from hydroelectric power plant construction. The South Korean government examined three years ago whether the North’s carbon credits are tradable in the South Korean market, but the examination came to a halt amid deteriorating inter-Korean relations. As the case may be, however, South Korean companies investing in the wind farm around the NLL will be able to obtain carbon credits with the North procuring foreign currencies.
Needless to say, things should be addressed for the wind farm to be actually built. First of all, the West Sea Peace Zone should be clearly set. The two Koreas are going to discuss this matter, on which they disagreed in October 2007, this month. Moreover, the upcoming U.S.-North Korea summit should end well and the South Korean government has to get local fishing households’ consent with neither navigation nor fishing operation allowed within a distance of 500 meters from a wind farm. Environmental destruction should also be forestalled with regard to generator installation, power cable burial, etc.
As a matter of course, it is money that is one of the biggest concerns. In many cases, wind farm construction on the sea costs three times the construction of a wind farm on land. It is said that the South Korean government is looking forward to private-sector investment and R&D by private-sector companies. North Korea’s technology, manpower and funds may be mobilized as well. Also, the two Koreas need to discuss how to use the electricity the wind farm generates after construction. The matter is likely to be discussed in the near future, too.