Japan’s offshore wind development speeding off




A lot is happening on the offshore wind power front in Japan. In June Japan unveiled its first commercial floating turbine in Asia and the 2-megawatt turbine off the coast of Fukushima will start operation on 7 October. The first project phase, which included the setting of the Hitachi downwind-type turbine with a rotor diameter of 80 meters on a structure supported by a set of three 32-meter-hihg cylindrical iron floats, was completed this summer. The world’s first floating power substation was installed two kilometres away from the floater.

The turbine and substation were installed on the floater at the dockyard at Tokyo Bay and then moved by a tugboat to the Pacific Ocean about 20 km offshore from Fukushima. The electricity generated will be transferred through an undersea cable to the seashore, and then transmitted to Tokyo by the existing grid lines. The Fukushima FORWARD project is carried out by the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

Two further 7-megawatt floating offshore turbines are planned to be constructed at the same location in 2014 and another 2 megawatt floating turbine is to be moored at Goto Island in Nagasaki Prefecture this autumn. This project is conducted by Japan’s Ministry of Environment. Additionally, developers and local governments have announced new commercial offshore wind projects recently, including the following:

 

The Kashima, Mutsuogawara and Omaezaki projects are all located at port areas, which have several advantages for offshore development in Japan; ports are governed by only one office "Ports and Harbors Bureau" making permission procedure much lighter; the fishing industry's rights are weaker at port areas, making developers freer from compensation; and industrial infrastructures and grid lines already exist for port facilities.

Currently, Japan has a total of 45.6MW of offshore wind capacity spread over 24 turbines at 5 locations.