In 2011, Dewind, a subsidiary of Korea’s Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME) decided to become a part of a large-scale wind farm project in Oklahoma called ‘Novus’. Dewind was founded in Lübeck, Germany in 1995 to focus on renewable energy. DSME, looking to expand into the wind power industry, acquired Dewind in 2009. When Dewind joined the Novus Project in the Oklahoma Panhandle, it did so with the resources of DSME, the second largest shipbuilder in the world. The total power capacity of Novus is 370MW, and installation of the first 160MW was completed by Dewind in January 2013. Now, 576,000MWh is being generated annually, which is enough to power 160,000 households. It is the biggest overseas wind farm project that a Korean company has been a part of.
This project is good for both Korea and the US. Following current global trends, the US has increased investments in renewable energy. Projects like Novus will help the US meet its goal of reducing carbon emissions by 30% in 2030, compared to 2005 levels.
The Korean government has also made efforts to develop wind energy, but there are still many restrictions on developing wind farms in Korea, especially large ones. Korea’s limited land area is a big reason for this. While the US is 3rd in the world for both land area and population, Korea is 109th in the world for land area, but 26th in the world when it comes to population. This means that Korea’s population density and the costs of using land are much higher than in the US. But at the same time, demand for wind power is increasing in Korea, and it is getting more competitive to acquire land for building new wind power complexes.
According to KWEIA, Korea’s biggest wind farm has a capacity of just 100 MW, located in Pyeong Chang County, where the 2018 Winter Olympics will be held. However, that wind farm does not use Korean-made turbines, but rather Danish’s ones built by Vestas. The biggest wind farm which uses only Korean turbines is in Yeong Am County, built by HHI in 2013, with a capacity of 40MW. Taken together, these two wind farms still have a smaller capacity than Dewind’s portion of the Novus project at 160MW. Because Korea’s wind power industry is so heavily reliant on foreign companies, Korean companies face strong competition to enter the domestic wind industry.
As a result, a new wind farm being established by DSME in Korea could represent a solution. Despite the formidable competition, DSME succeeded in winning a contract to build a new wind farm in Korea in February, 2013. Though it is much smaller than the one in Oklahoma, DSME’s success in Korea might be thanks to verified abilities and experiences gained from its role in the Novus Project. This shows that Korean wind power companies have a chance of being competitive in both domestically and abroad. The United States, which can offer vast territory and is hungry for affordable wind power investments, could be the land of opportunity for the emerging Korean wind industry.
Kawoon Kim is an Asan Academy Intern at the East-West Center in Washington.