South Korea-based floating PV project developer Scotra has completed building a 25 MW floating solar plant on a reservoir in Goheung county, in the South Korean province of Jeollanam. The company finished the first phase (9 MW) of the project in October 2019, but it did not connect the second phase (16 MW) to the grid until now. It built the project with its plastic floaters and corrosion-resistant alloy steel frames.

Scotra is currently building two more large-scale PV projects in Korea – a 40 MW plant at the Hapcheon hydro-electric power dam and 72 MW of capacity at the Saemangeum sea wall on the Yellow Sea. For the Saemangeum project, it has also built a new 300 MW factory to produce floaters and frames.

Developer Scotra claims that the project is the second-biggest floating PV array outside of China. According to the company, its planned 2.1 GW Saemangeum project will be 14 times larger than the current floating solar record holder, a 150 MW plant that is now being built in Huainan, in China’s Anhui province. The South Korean government unveiled the KRW4.6 trillion ($3.85 billion) project in July 2019. It overcame its first hurdle four months later, when the South Korean Ministry of Defense confirmed that the mega-scale plant would not affect flight operations at a nearby US armed forces base.

Founded in the early 2000s, Scotra completed a 500 kW floating PV system in the Hapcheon Dam in 2012, following this with similarly sized moves across other South Korean water bodies. The firm has taken its floating PV business model elsewhere in Asia, wrapping up various plants in Japan and bagging supply deals of around 9 MW for Taiwanese schemes. The developer is also carrying out R&D for 2.5 MW of off-shore installations under a scheme run by South Korea’s state, set to cover 2020 through to 2022.

REGlobal’s Views: South Korea, which is fostering floating PV through extra bonuses for renewable certificates, holds alone an installation potential of over 5 GW. The country appears ready to seize the window more decisively, with the government seriously pursuing a 2.1 GW floating scheme by the southwestern coastal dam of Saemangeum.