ETI E&C Redefining Floating Solar

Expert Interview – January 18, 2024

Jason Eom, CEO of ETI E&C Korea

In this captivating interview, Jason Eom, CEO, ETI E&C, offers valuable insights into ETI’s mission and values, growth opportunities in India, and its groundbreaking innovation, ECOFLOAT for floating solar PVs. ETI E&C will be showcasing ECOFLOAT at The smarter E India 2024 in Gandhinagar, Gujarat on February 21-23, 2024.

Can you share a brief intro about you and ETI Korea?

As a chemical engineering graduate, I furthered my studies with MBAs in both South Korea and Canada. I built a strong career spanning several decades at multinational companies like Dow Chemical and GE. Following my tenure as CEO of a renewable energy company, I currently lead ETI E&C, a leading South Korean provider of floating solar power technology.

I possess a deep understanding of floating PV materials and structure, driven by a passionate interest in advancing the field. ETI E&C is at the forefront of eco-friendly solar power generation, on both water and land. We leverage big data and AI simulations to design and deliver the most durable floating bodies and safeguard power generation modules, even in challenging marine environments. As the world's first company to offer such eco-friendly and resilient solutions, we are poised to take the lead in the industry, living up to ETI E&C's core value of "Energize Surroundings."

ETI E&C stands out for its commitment to eco-friendly water and land solar power generation. Can you elaborate on the company's mission and core values? What drives ETI E&C to "Energize Surroundings"?

ETI E&C is driven by a mission to create a better world and contribute to humanity by becoming the safest and most environmentally friendly floating PV company in the world.

  • Energize Surroundings: We inspire and power people, communities, and the world with clean energy solutions.
  • Talented People: We nurture and empower talented individuals to achieve exceptional results, fostering respect and collaboration within our team and throughout our communities.
  • Innovate the World: We relentlessly pursue groundbreaking ideas and technologies to connect the world with new pathways for a future powered by renewable energy.

At ETI E&C, we embrace a commitment to excellence and integrity. We strive to overcome challenges with unwavering dedication, taking pride in every aspect of our work and lives. This spirit of continuous improvement fuels our core value of "Energizing Surroundings," propelling us towards fulfilling our ambitious mission.

ETI E&C is one of the pioneering companies to offer eco-friendly and durable floating solar bodies. What led to this groundbreaking idea, and what were the initial challenges in bringing it to life?

The structure and material of the floating body and support system are crucial for continuous safety and environmental sustainability in floating solar power generation. However, damage to these components can become a major source of environmental harm, potentially turning these facilities into hazards. Seeking to improve this most exposed element, we found the answer surprisingly close to home.

Can you share some of the key innovations ETI E&C has brought to the floating solar power generation space? What sets your technology apart?

ETI E&C is a leading manufacturer of floating structures for FPV systems. Through several generations of innovation, FPV have transitioned from using FRP to high-density polyethylene (HDPE), a common and cost-effective material known for its ease of processing. However, the harsh external environment poses challenges for HDPE floaters, making them susceptible to degradation from UV rays, wave-induced overturning, and ice pressure. This can lead to product cracks and failure, causing loss of buoyancy and contributing to microplastic pollution worldwide.

Enter ECOFLOAT, ETI E&C's revolutionary new paradigm for floaters. By addressing the limitations of HDPE and incorporating eco-friendly materials, ECOFLOAT delivers unparalleled durability, weather resistance, and structural stability.

Safety is paramount in any power generation system. How does ETI E&C ensure the safety of its power generation modules, particularly in the context of floating solar installations?

Strong waves and winds pose a critical threat to the safety of floating structures and components, and a structure capable of withstanding such external shocks requires three main elements.

  • The first is a material that can withstand the impact of continuous environmental changes. HDPE's lattice structure, while excellent for processing, struggles to withstand external shocks. ETI's copolymeric material offers superior impact absorption.
  • The second is the design of the structure. Current HDPE designs, integrated and vulnerable to side impacts, easily flip. ETI's frame type distributes these forces effectively.
  • The third is the most important factor, the material and method of the structure's connection part. Current connections, either integrated (HDPE) or bolted (frame), lack flexibility under shocks. ETI's specialized copolymer connectors, rigorously tested for millions of bends, flexibly respond to any external force.

Can you describe your plans for India and the footprint of your Indian operations?

India is a very strong economic power in the world, and the development of the solar power sector is also very promising. Considering the reduction of logistics costs, the ease of local purchase of product materials, and the excellence of human resources in India, we plan to establish production facilities and local subsidiaries in India.

As the global leader in eco-friendly floating solar solutions, what are your ambitions for the future? What are the emerging markets or applications you're most excited about?

As the company that developed ECOFLOAT, the world's first eco-friendly buoyancy solution, we are committed to creating the safest and most durable structures and materials. We are confident that our technologies and values will revolutionize the field of floating buoyancy. While HDPE has remained relatively inexpensive, experts predict a significant price increase in the near future, leading to higher maintenance costs or compensation. ETI's ECOFLOAT is a groundbreaking example of floating solar power buoyancy that addresses these challenges head-on and we are confident it will become the global standard.

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