Incheon Tidal Power Plant: An Opportunity to Comment

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change website is presently offering people an opportunity to post their comments on the green credentials (or otherwise) of a massive tidal power plant (area: 196km2) in Incheon, ROK. This tidal power plant aims to convert the ROK’s largest remaining contiguous area of intertidal wetland into a reservoir. The area to be affected is the whole visually striking span of salt-marsh, tidal creeks, small islets and open tidal-flat that stretches north from the Incheon international airport to Ganghwa Island.

The opportunity to comment is open until December 12th 2011. This opportunity is provided as part of Incheon Tidal Power Station’s application for carbon credits which they would then sell. As stated within the application proposal, without carbon credits, the tidal power plant would not be “economically feasible” (P. 16).

Absence of comment at this time might be perceived as international support; comments expressing concern will very likely help to erode support for this tidal power plant and for similar projects elsewhere – both here in the ROK and in other nations with threatened estuaries.

To add your comment (positive or negative) please go to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change website by clicking here.

Birds Korea believes that this project is very poorly-advised. In its natural state, the intertidal area threatened by the Incheon Bay tidal power-plant is supposedly part-protected under domestic legislation. It supports several species in internationally important concentrations (including in and adjacent to this area, the world’s largest breeding concentration of the globally Endangered Black-faced Spoonbill Platalea minor), and it supports the livelihoods of large numbers of people both directly and indirectly. It should therefore be maintained in its present state, and designated as a Ramsar site.

 Black-faced Spoonbill Platalea minor. photo © Tim Edelsten.

However, the power-plant project that is seeking to win validation for its contribution to sustainable development requires the construction of massive seawalls, 20.9km in length, to create a vast reservoir fed by incoming high tides (which will then ebb lower at low tide in order to drive turbines).

In summary, we believe that:

1. There is little local or domestic support for the project;

2. It will impact biodiversity negatively, including globally threatened species;

3.It will lead to the loss of a very substantial area of natural habitats (mountains dug out for seawall construction and most especially extensive internationally important salt-marshes and open tidal-flats permanently flooded or dried out);

4. It might not do much to reduce greenhouse gas emissions once all factors are considered. In addition to increased emissions during construction, it seems possible that natural carbon sequestration will be reduced even while greenhouse gas emissions increase (as natural salt-marshes and tidal-flats are fantastic sinks for greenhouse gases, but can release much CO2 and methane when degraded);

5. And it will likely encourage further similarly destructive projects.

Objectively this proposed tidal power plant does not meet the definition of sustainable development or Targets as set out by the Millennium Development Goals; nor does it meet existing conservation obligations or targets under Ramsar or CBD’s Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 (with the latter calling by 2020 for “the rate of loss of all natural habitats (to be) at least halved and where feasible brought close to zero” (Target 5) and “the conservation status (of threatened species), particularly of those most in decline, (to be) improved and sustained” (Target 12).

The project therefore should not be validated as part of the Clean Development Mechanism by being allowed to sell carbon credits.

If you are willing to take a further five minutes to read more about the project, to register your comment or to forward this mail on to individuals or organisations that might be interested, we would be most appreciative.

With thanks,

Nial Moores,
Director, Birds Korea

November 30th, 2011.

To go directly to the PDF explaining the project, please click here.

For further information on this threatened site and its natural values, see pages 36-39 of the 2010 Birds Korea Blueprint by clicking here.

And for more on “South Korea’s Plans for Tidal Power: When a “Green” Solution Creates More Problems”, please visit here.

5 comments on “Incheon Tidal Power Plant: An Opportunity to Comment

  1. Let us hope that a thorough environmental impact assessment is conducted by reputable surveyors to guide what should happen in this respect. Clearly in biodiversity terms, there is a lot at stake. Let’s hope sense prevails and this valuable habitat for threatened species is safeguarded.

  2. Pingback: More on the proposed Incheon Tidal Power Plant - Talking Naturally

  3. Just to add to this post that we have today recieved very well-informed advice from someone who works on similar proposals and is very familar with carbon credits and CDM, that comments sent to them regarding environmental impacts are indeed deeply considered during the decision-making process. These concerns, when expressed, should where possible be specific and focus mostly either on environmental or social impacts.

    Of interest, projects are favored for these credits if they appear to be economically invalid without the additional support. The economic infeasibility of the Incheon Tidal Power Plant is therefore something that is best NOT to focus on (unless you actually support the impoundment of internationally important wetlands for the possible generation of so-called “green energy”!)

  4. Hi,
    -Has anyone posted a comment on the UN climate change website yet? If so, please share how you managed to do it.
    I have registered with them and have been given a password but it still seems to be very unclear as to how to actually register a comment.

    How about creating a separate petition that can be easily accessed?

  5. Hi,

    The procedure is indeed a fairly time-consuming one. The advice that has been received is that individual comments, focused on the issues, will be considered and responded to. Petitions will not have the same effect.

    These were instructions used to post:

    Through e.g. Mozilla Firefox browser:
    Register at:
    Wait for email with initial password and the log on.
    From the “My CDM” page, in the left hand menu:
    Click on “Project Cycle Search” and
    Then on the menu that expands below “Project Cycle Search”
    Click on “validation”
    Type “Incheon” into the Title field;
    and click Search.
    Click on “Incheon Tidal Power Station CDM Project”
    This should bring up the description page with the comment form, you can upload files there.

    Hope this helps.

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