South Korea’s 2.1 GW floating solar project overcomes first hurdle

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The South Korean Ministry of Defense has confirmed the 2.1 GW floating solar plant the government is planning to build near the Saemangeum tidal flat, on the coast of the Yellow Sea, will not affect flight operations at a nearby U.S. forces base.

Defense Ministry spokesman Choi Hyun-soo told a public hearing development of the project had not been challenged by the U.S.’ United States Forces Korea (USFK) division – contrary to a report a day earlier run by the Chosun Ilbo newspaper – and had no objection to the project. The South Korean government news service, which reported on the hearing, said Choi stated: “It is not true that Saemangeum’s photovoltaic project will interfere with USFK flight operations.”

The conservative Chosun Ilbo claimed the USFK feared panel light reflection could interfere with military flights and landing operations at Gunsan Airfield, 3km from the project site. The newspaper reported Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power, a unit of state-owned utility Korea Electric Power Corporation, is responsible for developing the project, and had dismissed the concerns.

The KRW4.6 trillion ($3.96 billion) project was announced by the Korean government in July. It is part of renewed efforts by Seoul to increase the share of renewable energy in the country’s electricity mix. A 3 GW ground-mounted solar project was announced for the Saemangeum area by South Korean president Moon Jae-in last November.

The country is aiming to install 30.8 GW of solar generation capacity by 2030.