South Korea’s Floating Solar Power Plant

Solar panels

Solar panels in the shape of plum blossoms, floating on the reservoir in South Korea could power homes in the country. Robust floating solar panels over 92,000 curated in 17 giant flowers offer hope to land-scarce developed nations, who can skirt local resistance to giant renewable energy projects.

Touted as one of the largest floating solar power plants in the world, at the 12-mile-long (19-kilometre-long) reservoir in southern Hapcheon County, the giant flowers can generate 41 megawatts. According to Hanwha Solutions Corp., which built the plant, the output is sufficient to power 20,000 homes.

Kim Jiseok, a climate specialist and Greenpeace Korea specialist, stated that South Korea needs a massive amount of renewable energy to meet its climate goal. Kim added that floating solar power can be part of the solution because it faces less opposition from residents and does not use land.

Floating solar panels are garnering a lot of attention, especially in Asia, in countries like South Korea and Singapore, where the land required for large-scale solar farms is already dedicated to buildings or agriculture.

Hapcheon Dam was constructed around the late 1980s during the military dictatorship of Chun Doo-hwan. And Hapcheon leads the way showing how reservoir-based systems can help overcome one of the biggest mindset obstacles to expanding renewable energy in developed countries that are not in my backyard mentality of residents.

The floating projects benefit from an easier connection to the electricity grid through an existing link from a hydroelectric plant or the reservoir close to an urban area. Furthermore, photovoltaic panels can also help limit algae growth. Water helps keep panels cool in hot climates, increasing their efficiency.

Hanwha, Korea’s largest producer of photovoltaic modules, is currently working on a 63 MW floating power plant on Lake Goheung located in the south of the country. The plant will stand as the largest in the country. Shin Hyungseob, General Manager of Hanwha Solutions, which produces panels under the Q Cells brand, stated that they saw huge potential in the global floating solar market as more countries adopted the technology and hoped to export the modules.

According to the Green Energy Institute, while solar power is South Korea’s top renewable energy source, at 21 GW, the nation will need at least 375 GW to reach net zero. In this context, Greenpeace’s Kim reiterated that even with the help of floating solar plants, South Korea has a long way to go and little time to deal with the climate crisis.