South Korea deployed 4.1 GW of solar in 2020


South Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) has estimated that around 4.1 GW of new PV systems were grid connected in the country last year. If confirmed by official statistics, this result would compare to 3.8 GW in 2019 and 2.4 GW in 2018 and would make 2020 the most successful year ever recorded by the country.

At the end of December, South Korea's cumulative installed PV capacity should have reached around 15.6 GW.

Last year “marked the third year after the Korean government's 20%-renewables-by-2030 plan announcement, causing a boom in solar,” Yeji Kim, researcher at Seoul-based Solutions For Our Climate, told pv magazine. “Large scale PV plants–over 1 MW [in scale]–were built in the country for the first time but, unfortunately, we could not find the exact number of installations completed in 2020.”

According to her, however, this year's growth may be lower than that of 2020, as several regional administrations are limiting the development of utility scale projects through new regulations for project siting. Citing recent numbers from the Korea Energy Agency (KEA), the analyst said the newly installed PV capacity for the first quarter of this year reached 0.56 GW while, in the same period of 2020, new PV systems had totaled over 1 GW.

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The Korea Photovoltaic Industry Association (KOPIA) recently said it expects around 3 GW of new PV will be installed in the country this year. “Despite the record growth in South Korea's solar, renewables are still strangled, unable to grow as fast as they should,” Kim added.

South Korea currently plans to install 30.8 GW of solar by 2030. This ambitious target is expected to be achieved by building giant solar parks such as a 2.1 GW floating solar project, and a 3 GW ground-mounted PV array that was announced for the Saemangeum area by South Korean president Moon Jae-in in November 2018.

More recently, the South Korean government announced a plan to add another 2.1 GW of floating PV by 2030. Furthermore, the MOTIE is planning to allocate around 4 GW of solar capacity this year across two PV tenders, which will likely be launched in April and October. The ministry has also recently announced it wants to help development of unsubsidized solar by allowing domestic electricity consumers to buy power from renewable energy power producers through power purchase agreements (PPAs).

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