S-Space Graduate School of Environmental Studies (환경대학원) Dept. of Environmental Planning (환경계획학과) Theses (Master's Degree_환경계획학과)
Environmental Justice in Solar Energy Development
- Issue Date
- 서울대학교 대학원
- environmental justice; renewable energy; development-induced displacement; sustainability; Saemangeum
- 학위논문(석사)--서울대학교 대학원 :환경대학원 환경계획학과,2019. 8. 김태형.
- Energy transition efforts in Korea are largely driven by increasing solar energy development, exemplified by the largest capacity plant planned in and around the inland sea of Saemangeum. As a space created through reclamation, Saemangeum has a complex history of severe environmental destruction and displacement of local fishers. As the group in the community who has the most intimate relationship with the marine ecosystem, fishers perception of the solar project has unique implications on its community acceptance. This study thus investigates Saemanguem fishers perspective on the solar project based on the environmental justice framework. In-depth interviews indicate that while fishers support renewable energy transition, they find this particular project unjust, for they are disproportionately burdened and marginalized from the decision-making processes.
Much of the burdens are felt locally by a specific, vulnerable group in the community (fishers). The inland sea vessel fishers would experience immediate and direct impact on their fishery, for the floating panels would be installed in sites that compete with and reduce inland sea fishers fishing grounds. Fishers of all regions and practices, especially the inland sea hand-gatherers, would be burdened by disruption to their potential to recover from the reclamation-induced displacement. For years, fishers have been demanding for water quality and ecosystem restoration through free flow of seawater across the dike. However, the sites that were expected to function as key habitat for spawning and marine life are planned to be surrounded with impervious structure to protect the panels.
While different fishers would be the exposed to slightly different types and severity of losses, their opinions on the distribution of outcome did not reflect their diversity; instead, they share strong beliefs against development in the sea. Although there are promises of financial return, the benefit-sharing mechanism is largely designed for the whole community and perceived as inaccessible and/or inapplicable to the fishers. Fishers losses cannot be compensated with investment profit because their concept of equitable distribution requires coexistence of fishery and solar energy in the shared space. This is because through the shared reclamation experiences, they collectively learned and created discourse that identifies their status of a social minority as the reason for repeatedly unequitable outcomes, which extends to future generation fishers as well.
Indeed, fishers voices are systematically excluded from the decision-making processes. Even with a low-risk technology such as solar energy, this project resulted in serious burden to the less visible group because of its top-down process. Local context and specificity were disregarded in the absence of public discussion prior to the project authorization, and the information sessions and joint negotiations committee put in place in response to community backlash also provided only limited opportunities for participation. Of all, fishers right to participate was particularly oppressed based on the legal inability of some inland sea fishers to oppose development in the reclamation site. However, fishers were grouped into an undistinguishable, insignificant minority in the community, and thus even the rightful fishers were excluded. Such procedural injustice reaffirms the oppressive interaction with development authorities from the past, where they do not make the effort to rebuild nor maintain a communicative relationship with fishers. As such, fishers evaluate the very character of decisionmakers as authoritative and detached from the local context, and express both frustration and exhaustion in demanding for their right to participation.
Ultimately, Saemanguem solar needs better justice considerations to be truly sustainable.