▲ Wind turbines across Jeju Island use the almost constant wind as an inexhaustible energy resource. Photo courtesy Jeju Special Self-Governing Province
The whole unhappy notion of depleting Earthly resources is one that hangs almost entirely on the assumption that we know what a resource is. Emerging technologies such as solar cells and wind turbines allow us to make use of such things as wind and solar radiation, which had not previously been considered resources. Further, with rising global temperatures and recent disasters, such as the one that has the waters in the Gulf of Mexico slick with oil, the need for cleaner ways to run our cities has never been more obvious. Jeju’s progress along the “green” path is most clearly seen in the commitment it has made to being a carbon-free island. As a measureable stepping stone, said Boo Jeong Hwan — a project manager for the Future Strategy Industry Division of the provincial government — Jeju aims to reduce its carbon by 20 percent by 2020. Wind power, Boo said, has the largest role to play towards this end — much larger than solar, geothermal or any other alternative to fossil fuels.
Currently about 3 percent of the electricity consumed on Jeju derives from 46 functioning wind turbines tied into the grid, Boo said. Traveling any distance on Jeju, one is bound to come across some of these massive turbines looming large on the landscape. Typically they’re seen in groups known as wind farms. “Each wind farm is essentially a power plant” said Corry Bertolini, site manager for a wind operation on Jeju. Each is owned and run as a business, either privately or by the provincial government.
Currently there are seven wind farms on Jeju, three of which belong to the provincial government and account for 19 of the 46 turbines, Boo said. These are the Haengwon Farm, the Green Village Farm and the Gimnyeong Farm, which just came into operation in Feb. 2010.
A turbine’s capacity, Bertolini said, is defined according to the quantity of energy it generates in optimal conditions —when the wind is blowing sufficiently, but not so much as to impede the turbine’s operation. The total of all turbine capacity on Jeju is 80.5 megawatts, Boo said, and the turbines owned by the provincial government collectively have a capacity of 13 MW. The private farms, which account for the remainder, are the Samdal Wind Farm, owned by Hanshin Energy; and the Hankyung Phase 1 & 2 Wind Farms and the Sungsan Wind Farm, all owned by the Korea Southern Power Co, or Kospo. Boo said that the Samdal farm has 11 turbines, with a collective capacity of 33 MW, Hankyung Phase 1 has four turbines, representing 6 MW, Phase 2 has five turbines, collectively at 15 MW, and Sungsan has six turbines totaling 12 MW.
Bertolini said that the difference between a turbine’s capacity and the amount of energy it will actually generate is usually significant, and that a turbine will typically produce about 30 percent of its capacity —according to such variables as the time of year, location and maintenance of the turbine.
According to its Web site, the government of Jeju first established plans for the commercial development of wind power in 1995, and then in August 1998 two turbines were set up in Haengwon for commercial operation. These were Korea’s first. The wind farm grew to consist of 15 turbines, bearing a price tag of 20.3 billion won, paid for jointly by the national government (15.6 billion won), a local government grant (4.3 billion won) and private investments (totaling 400 million won). From its start date until the end of 2003, more than 3.6 billion won in profit had been amassed from the operation.
▲ Photo by Chris Moule
As Jeju, well-known domestically for its abundant wind, increasingly involves itself in wind technology, different avenues of business and trade become available. Not only the use of wind technology, but also its manufacture, is coming within the scope of Jeju’s affairs. One crucial step in the production of wind technology, Boo said, is certification. He said there are few areas in the world where certification can be obtained and the process is expensive but certified products are necessary for many things, including ensuring safety and other standards, as well as export opportunities. Korea, having lacked such certification in the past, has relied on other manufacturers, he said, such as Danish company Vestas. Recently however, some Korean manufacturers have obtained certification. One such is Unison, which received certification two years ago and is now exporting wind turbines, Boo said.
Another step in the same direction includes the establishment of a renew-able energy testing complex at Jeju’s Gimnyeong, Boo said. This test site will be used to measure Korean manufacturers’ wind technology as an aid to the certification process. Boo said that having a test site at Gimnyeong would be advantageous for two reasons.
Manufacturers can avoid the cost of shipping products overseas for testing, and Gimnyeong’s almost constant wind is ideal for such testing.
Not only Unison but fellow Korean companies HanJin and Hyosung have obtained certification for wind-turbines, and these companies will play, Boo said, a large role in shaping Jeju’s landscape in the near future. Residents of the island can expect to see, by the end of 2010, 13 more turbines with a total capacity of 15 MW. HanJin is constructing seven turbines, while Unison and Hyosung are to make three each. Boo said these turbines will all be owned and run by the Jeju provincial government.
Further plans include an offshore wind farm consisting of 10 turbines with a total capacity of 30 MW, as well as another three smaller farms. No completion dates for these farms have been established yet.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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