South Korea Seeks to Harness its Tidal Power
As the international community continues to strive towards clean, renewable energy, South Korea has turned towards an abundant resource to power the future: the powerful waves of the Yellow Sea. Marine experts from Orkney, Scotland have recently agreed to advise South Korean engineers during the construction of a new tidal testing center in the northwestern Incheon Metropolitan City. The European Marine Energy Centre, or EMEC, has been operating in Scotland since 2003, where it has been developing technologies that generate electricity by harnessing the power of waves and tidal streams. Although the turbulent waves of the Yellow Sea have been noted as "very tough to work in," and EMEC spokeman has said that the waters offer some of the world's most tidal conditions, therefore making it a superb resource.
This project is not the first of its kind to reach South Korean shores, however. For eight years now, the South Korean government has been investing in and developing its tidal wave power plant infrastructure, including a fully-operating plant in Shihwa that began operations in 2011. The 254 megawatt Shihwa plant is also located off the Yellow Sea, and long-term feasibility studies have also been completed for planned sites, such as a 480 megawatt site projected to be at Garolim Bay. Building these new structures could potentially have a negative environmental impact, stated Keyyong Hong, director of marine structure and plant research at the Korea Ocean Research and Development Institute, so the building of research facilities to gather reliable data is an important first step before breaking ground.
South Korea's need to gather this information about marine technology was what brought EMEC to its shores, and displays the vital aspect that international collaboration has in the success of the global renewable energy industry. Moung Jo Cho, director general of economic hub promotion for Incheon, said that "the mutual benefits to be gained from this relationship are clear in terms of the support we can provide to one another." Aside from South Korea, EMEC has also been working on project through the Pacific region, including agreements with China's Ocean University, Japan's planned Marine Energy Center, and the planned Pacific Marine Energy Center of Oregon in the United States. As for the future of the renewable energy market, South Korean officials have reported that these developing projects have made the market worth $3.64 billion in 2012, and should be around $48 billion by 2022.