South Korea Issues Guidelines for Solar Projects in Environmentally Protected Areas

The Ministry of Environment in South Korea has issued guidelines for solar power installation amid fears about environmental damage due to natural disasters. The guidelines will come into effect from August 1, 2018.

Under these guidelines, solar projects are prohibited from environmentally protected areas or those deemed prone to natural disasters. For example – natural habitat of endangered species in mountainous regions, well-preserved areas with little environmental damage, and steep areas prone to landslides after heavy rainfall.

“The measures are expected to reduce conflicts between developers and residents. Installation was approved with a few obstacles as no prior guidelines were in effect, but developers will no longer be able to obtain approval so easily,” said a ministry official in a media statement.

The government has taken these measures after a recent landslide in Cheongdo County in North Gyeongsang Province. Typhoon Prapiroon caused heavy rainfall which led to solar panels installed on a mountain slope to slide down onto a nearby two-lane road. The incident highlighted that many developers have been cutting down trees to install solar projects and lack of trees have weakened the ground making it vulnerable to rainfall.


The government has constituted a joint team of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, and the Korea Forest Service to review the safety of solar sites installed on mountains. It has asked over 28,600 solar panel operators to submit reports on signs of instability after inspection of their facilities.

Recently, President Moon Jae-in pledged to gradual but complete phase-out of nuclear-fuelled power plants. This has increased the construction of solar power structures in the country, aided by expansion in state subsidies for renewable energy.

Recently, Mercom reported that Hanwha Q CELLS, a manufacturer of solar cells and modules, has signed a multi-party memorandum of understanding (MoU) to supply solar modules for rooftop solar installations atop various gas stations across South Korea.