Saemangeum to be a Role Model of Green Initiative

By Park Sae-jin Posted : November 16, 2009, 08:23 Updated : November 16, 2009, 08:23

A reclaimed tidal flat on South Korea's southwest coast starts its engine for green initiatives. Korean officials announced that a test bed complex for wind power capable of generating 40 megawatts will be built on reclaimed land at Saemangeum.

The Ministry of Knowledge Economy also reported plans to develop sea wind power technology and provide pollution-free hydrogen fuel-cells for domestic use starting in 2010.

The project is designed to establish an organically linked complex of power generation facilities, industrial complex and R&D center, with investment to the tune of KRW 360 billion (USD 310 million).

Since the government usually rules out projects with ambiguous business objectives or inappropriate policy directions, high scores in the feasibility test is a de facto approval for the project.

Under the plan, a power generation complex with capacity of 40 MW will be established in the wind power cluster during the stage 1 from 2010 to 2014 integrated complex and wind technology research center will be set up in Saemangeum industrial complex to produce wind turbines for domestic and overseas supply.

Regarding fuel-cells for transportation use, the government plans to support companies to complete the commercialization of the products by 2012.

The government plans to adopt a Renewable Portfolio Standard in the next three years. Under the RPS rule, power companies have to produce 3 percent of their electricity from renewable sources.

To encourage solar energy businesses, a set amount of that 3 percent will have to be in the form of solar power.

Renewables must make up 10 percent of supply by 2020. The mandatory system - already adopted in some countries - imposes penalties if power companies fail to meet the standard.

The government will also financially support small and medium-sized companies developing core parts for wind power generators and fuel-cells.

Director for North Jeolla Strategic Industry Department Lee Geum-hwan said, "The high scores stand for a golden opportunity to make headway in the wind power market, which records high growth by over 25% every year. We will be able to gain the upper hand in the global market as we go towards a more sophisticated, integrated, and scaled wind power industry.”

The Korea Rural Community Corp. (KRC), meanwhile, said that Saemangeum will be transformed into an eco-friendly manufacturing hub. The plan calls for 1,870 hectares of industrial land to be built up by 2018 at a cost of 1.94 trillion won (US$1.64 billion).

The land located in the northern part of the 40,100 hectare-wide Saemangeum plot, about 280km south of Seoul, will house research and development centers, clean production factories and international business complexes to facilitate trade.

"From the outset clean production has been incorporated into the development blueprint with the new industrial complex to become a role model for low carbon, 'green' growth," said Lee Sang-yong, executive vice president of the corporation.

Besides environmental friendly conditions, various tax breaks, cheap land prices and other incentives will be offered to companies that want to set up operations there.

Factory land prices are to be set at around around 500,000 won per 3.3 square meters of land, compared to 5 million won for an industrial complex in Incheon.

South Korea began work to reclaim the tidal flats in 1991, with government expenditure to date exceeding 2.4 trillion won. A 33-kilometer sea wall was completed in April 2006 with water being gradually drained from the area.

Last year the central government announced a master plan that calls for developing 69.5 percent of Saemangeum region by 2020. The remainder of the land will be kept in reserve. Policymakers claim Saemangeum's economic impact will be equivalent to 28.5 trillion won worth of additional production.

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