Partnering for success: RPS, SEKWANG and Korean offshore wind

South Korea has ambitious plans to boost offshore wind development and generation, but must navigate the challenges experienced by a relatively young market, such as evolving regulations and developing a strong local supply chain. Developers also need to balance understanding and complying with local processes and regulations with the need to guide projects by drawing on international best practice and requirements. This is especially the case on the path to obtaining finance for future wind farms.

In all respects, partnerships will be crucial – pooling talent and resources, while delivering expertise and experience where they’re needed. As a 2021 report puts it, “Partnerships have the power to increase the speed and decrease the cost of offshore wind for Korea, while at the same time allowing domestic companies to leapfrog to best-in-class.” [1]

For Equinor’s Firefly project, SEKWANG Engineering Consultants looks after all permits required by local Korean regulations. RPS supports by producing an international standard Environmental Impact Assessment, in parallel to the local EIA. RPS and SEKWANG were chosen for this development as a team, based on our individual track records in delivering major projects. (RPS has also supported Equinor on previous international projects.)

This case study explores how the partnership came about, how it achieved synergy, and what makes it unique in the Korean offshore wind market.

Choosing a partner in South Korea: expertise, experience and cultural fit

Our process for finding a consultancy partner for RPS in Korea was robust. The initial list included all of the engineering and environmental consultants in this space, from the large to the small, the international and the local.

In defining criteria for our shortlist, we looked for expertise and capabilities in the local market. Track record in offshore wind was also considered, although we weren’t expecting to find decades of experience given the newness of the Korean offshore wind industry.

Our chosen partner, SEKWANG, had relevant transferable experience. Well-known for their strength in marine and harbour infrastructure, their impressive resume includes a long list of major projects in Korea.

The local consenting and permitting work they do is also similar to what would be required for offshore wind. In addition, they had gained good prior offshore wind experience, having been involved in early site selection review as the local consenting and permitting support for global developers.

We were also actively seeking another important quality: cultural fit. Development projects can be challenging, with testing moments to be expected; it helps to have a shared approach to working through them, rather than finding snags because of partners’ different approaches.

Alun Williams, RPS Director - Global Offshore Renewables, says that a similar way of working is one of the great strengths of the RPS-SEKWANG partnership. He comments on the excellent relationship between RPS Country Manager Sangmok (Sam) Roh and SEKWANG Vice President Seung-Joo Jin, who leads SEKWANG’s offshore wind business:

SEKWANG are a strong, technically robust supplier, giving high-quality advice. They work in a very similar way to RPS, and like us, occupy the high-quality end of the market. We have great respect for Mr Jin, who is deeply knowledgeable in his field. The similarity of how we work is a really important part of how RPS and SEKWANG fit together.”

“SEKWANG are a strong, technically robust supplier, giving high-quality advice."

Alun Williams

Global Director - Offshore Renewables

Alun Williams Scaled