Shell, Equinor, Ocean Winds and Japanese Partners Launch Japan’s Floating Offshore Wind Group

Six European and Japanese companies have established Japan’s Floating Offshore Wind Group to actively promote floating offshore wind in the country.

The newly launched group – set up by Equinor, Shell, Ocean Winds (a joint venture between EDP Renewables and ENGIE), Sumitomo Corporation Global Metals, JGC Japan Corporation, and Toda Corporation – has issued three main recommendations for the development of floating wind in Japan.

The partners have called for setting a floating wind target of 2-3 GW by 2030, as well as setting medium- and long-term targets.

“The industry is preparing and large-scale FOW projects can be operational by 2030, thus contributing to Japan’s decarbonisation. In addition, it should be noted that Japan has FOW-related industries such as construction, shipbuilding, steel, and chemical industries, making it a potential for domestic industrial development”, Ocean Winds stated in a press release.

Furthermore, in order to industrialise, mature and reduce the costs of floating offshore wind, strategic development plans for large-scale and domestic industrial development should be promoted, the group said, with plans for projects ranging from several hundred megawatts to gigawatt-scale projects necessary to achieve this by 2030.

“If clear pathways are shown to empower the domestic industry, reduce costs and take strategic measures, the domestic FOW supply chain can be internationally competitive”, Ocean Winds states.

Japan’s Floating Offshore Wind Group also said that the discussion to create an attractive floating wind business environment needed to be accelerated.

“We propose to set committees dedicated to discussing FOW matters, and outline a clear path towards building a business environment. This includes setting mid and long-term targets, plans for large-scale FOW farms, and working towards developing in the EEZ”.

The Japanese government aims to deploy 10 GW of offshore wind capacity by 2030 and 30-45 GW by 2040, including floating wind, as part of its target to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

The key factors to achieve reduction in levelised cost of energy (LCoE) are industrialisation and maturation of wind power to enable substantial installation capacity, Ocean Winds said.

For this, it is necessary to create an attractive business environment by developing  stable, and long-term market that enables the industry to make large-scale investment decisions, and early clarification of floating wind-related systems such as development in EEZs, the developer states.

Japan launched its first floating offshore wind auction last year and selected a consortium of six companies, led by Toda Corporation, now one of the members of Japan’s Floating Offshore Wind Group, to build the country’s first commercial floating offshore wind farm.

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Japan’s first floating wind turbine, installed off Kitakyushu City, went into operation in 2019 as part of a demonstration project for the Hibiki barge-type floating offshore wind power generation system, established by the country’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO).

Last year, NEDO selected TEPCO to examine the basic design and construction methods for floating spar foundations that can accommodate 10 MW turbines and MODEC, Toyo Construction, and Furukawa Electric to develop a next-generation floating wind platform and mooring system, both as part of research and development for technology to reduce CAPEX and OPEX of floating offshore wind turbines.

There are several floating wind projects proposed in Japan, many of them coming from European companies that teamed up with Japanese partners, such as Aker Offshore Wind and Mainstream Renewable Power, BW Ideol, RWE, and SSE Renewables.

Meanwhile, the country’s first commercial offshore wind farm is under construction off Akita Prefecture, where the 140 MW Akita Noshiro project is being built by a consortium led by Marubeni with partners Obayashi Corporation, Tohoku Sustainable & Renewable Energy, Cosmo Eco Power, The Kansai Electric Power, Chubu Electric Power, The Akita Bank, Ohmori, Sawakigumi Corporation, Kyowa Oil, Katokensetsu, Kanpu, and Sankyo.

Photo: Equinor; Hywind Scotland (Illustration)