South Korea has started commercial operations of a hydro power generation system that uses cooling water from a thermal power plant and ocean tides.

The small-scale system at the Samchonpo power plant in Goseong, South Gyeongsang Province, is capable of generating 3000kW of clean, reusable energy, South Korea’s Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy has announced. The Samchonpo thermal power plant, run by state-owned Korea Namdong Electrics, has two 560,000kW generators.

The ministry said the system is the first in the world to use both spent ocean water used to cool thermal power generators and the force of nature. By using the difference in sea level during high and low tide in the area, the hydro power system can maximize power output.

The ministry has contributed 3.03B won (US$3.25M) into the 32-month project that cost 18B (US$19M) won overall. The system can generate clean energy for 7585 households every year, equivalent to 42,153 barrels of crude oil.