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Floating Lidar install launches giant Korea offshore wind project

Green Investment Group deploys nation’s flagship unit at 1.4GW deepwater site off Ulsan

Macquarie-owned Green Investment Group (GIG) has installed Korea’s maiden floating Lidar unit, at the site of the 1.4GW Ulsan floating wind power project it is developing off South Korea.

The mooring marks the first deployment of infrastructure at a vast deep-water development zone for which a memorandum of understanding was signed in January between the southeastern industrial port city of Ulsan and groups led by utility SK E&S, oil giant Shell and developer Wind Power Korea, as well as GIG.

“Launch [of] Korea’s first ever floating Lidar system [is] a significant milestone in the development of our project and Korea’s burgeoning offshore wind market,” said Woojin Choi, associate director leading GIG’s Ulsan development. “With its access to steel, ships, offshore plant expertise and port logistics, Ulsan city is perfectly positioned to deliver a fantastic offshore wind farm.

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“This [unit] will collect critical data relating to wind speed and direction which will support GIG in designing the project and evaluating its influence on the environment, ecosystem and fishing industry.”

The Lidar, supplied by Chinese manufacturer Titan using a design from Germany R&D institute Fraunhofer, will capture environmental data for two years, during which time “detailed project plans will continue to be developed in collaboration with stakeholders and related organisations”, according to GIG.

A GIG spokesperson told Recharge developer and technology partners would be announced in “late-2019/early-2020”, with switch-on of the first phase of the giant floating wind project, expected to be 400MW in size, slated for 2022. The project is sited 60km off Seosang-myon, Ulju-gun, in 140 metres of water,

The Korea Maritime University, Zen and Vision Plus are currently working with GIG to manage design and stability testing of berthing facilities, installation and operations for the project.

“Our ambition is for the Ulsan project to contribute to local economic development, revitalise local industries, create jobs and support the South Korean government’s Renewable 3020 plan [to produce 20% of its power from clean-energy sources],” Woojin added.

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In April, South Korea set out a plan to grow that figure to 35% by 2040.

Floating Lidar (light detection and ranging) technology shoots a laser beam into the sky and gauges wind flow by reading the way it "scatters" in the atmospheric particles. It is now treated as “bankable” measurement technology in Europe, following successful trials at several large projects, but this is the first use off Korea for a commercial wind farm.

The Ulsan project is GIG’s first offshore as a lead developer, but the investment house has provided capital to 15 wind farms with a total capacity over 4.5GW globally, including 50% of the UK’s operational offshore wind fleet and Taiwan’s first commercial-scale offshore wind farm.

GIG has also recently signed deal with Energy Infra Asset Management, a KRW2trn ($1.7bn) renewable energy fund manager, to finance the Ulsan floating wind project, as well as one with local partner Gyeongbuk Floating Offshore Wind.

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