South Korea seeks cleaner energy sources

11 May – South Korea broke ground for the world’s biggest solar power plant on Thursday (10 May) as it tries to diversify its power sources and use cleaner energy.

The $170m plant, along with the world’s largest tidal power plant that is already under construction off the country’s west coast, is part of an aggressive effort to seek new and renewable energy sources at a time when global concern about reducing the emission of heat-trapping greenhouse gases is rising.

The nation is attempting to increase its use of renewable energy from its current 2.28 per cent to 10 per cent by 2020. The solar plant, being built in Shinan, near the southwestern tip of South Korea, is scheduled to be completed by late 2008.

It will feature 109 000 rectangular solar modules that will cover a seaside plot the size of 80 football fields, engineers said Wednesday. The modules tilt on a sun-tracking system to generate up to 20 MW of electricity.

“The plant will produce more than 27 000 MWh of environmentally friendly electricity a year,” said Kim Ji Hun, president of the Korean subsidiary of SunTechnics, the German solar power company that will build the plant on a turnkey contract. “This will be enough to supply 6 000 to 7 000 households, and saves 20 000 tons of carbon dioxide a year, or the amount of carbon dioxide 23 000 cars emit a year.”