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In South Korea, one oil company is shifting its focus to offshore wind

In a bid to perhaps make up for decades of fueling climate change, the Shell corporation began the development of a massive floating wind farm off the coast of South Korea. It owns an 80 percent share in the proposed project, with the remainder split between South Korean interests and a Swedish firm.

While the feasibility of the project is still being determined, the 1.4 gigawatt wind farm is expected to be located off the coast of Ulsan, an industrial hub in the southeast. A successfully completed project would yield as much as 4.65 terawatts of energy annually一or enough to power over one million households.

This aligns with the South Korean government’s goal of reducing its net carbon emissions to zero by the year 2050. A large part of this endeavor entails the development of renewable energy resources, and offshore wind farms are expected to produce up to 12 gigawatts of offshore wind capacity by 2030.

Shell’s proposed design, a floating offshore platform, differs from most other offshore wind turbines, which are usually fixed-bottom. In a floating design, turbines on platforms are secured to the seafloor through lines and anchors. The benefit of this innovation is that it allows wind farms to be located substantially farther away from the coastline, where sites enjoy stronger, more consistent winds.

Though construction might be more difficult, offshore farms have the potential for greater efficiency. Known typically for its oil and gas ventures, Shell’s new direction suggests fossil fuel majors might finally be willing to promote renewables rather than hindering their growth一so long as it’s profitable to do so.

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