South Korea and Scotland Eye Offshore Wind for Sustainable Business

On opposite sides of the Eurasian landmass, two small but economically important countries are making big new investments in the sustainable business of offshore wind. If you needed convincing that offshore wind is taking off around the world, this should be it. If other countries like the United States don’t want to be left behind, they had best become serious about their own renewable energy investments in a hurry.

South Korea, which is rapidly becoming a sustainable business leader, aims to finish building a mammoth offshore wind project by the year 2019. When finished, the wind farm will consist of 500 offshore turbines and will be able to generate 2,500 megawatts of electricity. Since South Korea imports almost all its fuel from other countries, developing renewable energy is an important tool for gaining energy independence. Yet it seems the government also considers the newly announced wind farm project as essential to building up a domestic wind industry that can eventually produce exports on a large scale. By installing its own giant wind farm at home, South Korea hopes to give its companies a chance to gain credibility in the global market.

Meanwhile in Scotland, seventy million British pounds will be directed toward construction and upkeep of offshore wind projects. In becoming a center for offshore wind energy in Europe, Scotland is expected to create 28,000 sustainable business jobs and draw private investors who will stimulate the economy. Like South Korea, Scotland is serious about solidifying its position as a leader in the green energy industry. By 2020 Scotland plans to be producing 80% of its electricity from renewable sources—a goal that makes even the most ambitious state renewable energy standards in the Unites States look paltry.

Both Scotland and South Korea’s newly announced offshore wind projects are occurring in parts of the world where offshore wind as a sustainable business is already seeing rapid growth. The United Kingdom plans to put up 7,000 offshore wind turbines during the next decade—not just in Scotland but off England’s shores as well. In South Korea, the newly-announced project is the biggest of multiple wind projects slated for development. Within the decade South Korea plans to install 1,000 offshore turbines, which will generate five gigawatts of electricity.

Yet while countries in both Europe and Asia forge ahead with bigger and bigger offshore wind projects, the United States lags behind. The US has finally approved one large offshore wind farm, Cape Wind. But for a country with more than 4,000 gigawatts of offshore wind capacity, one big project represents barely a drop in the bucket.

If the United States has so far failed to live up to its offshore wind potential, at least countries like South Korea and Scotland are embracing this enormous sustainable business opportunity. By the end of the end of the decade both these countries—and many others—will be generating large amounts of home-grown energy from offshore wind. By that time they will likely have secured a place for themselves in one of the most promising new industries in the world.

Photo credit: Pal Espen Bondestad