Hitachi Zosen, Statoil Work on Floating Offshore Wind Technology

Hitachi Zosen Corp. (7004), an industrial machinery maker, wants to use its partnership with Statoil ASA (STL) to bring technology for floating offshore wind turbines to the Japanese market more quickly.

Hitachi Zosen, which started as a shipyard in 1881, in November signed a technical cooperation agreement with Statoil, Norway’s oil and gas producer. Statoil’s “Hywind” project features the world’s first full-scale floating wind turbine.

“We are looking at how we can bring technology cultivated in Norway to Japan,” Takashi Fujita, general manager of Hitachi Zosen’s strategic planning department, said in an interview in Tokyo. “It won’t be that difficult. Both partners want to reduce time to bring the floating offshore technology to reality as much as possible.”

Japan is working to boost clean energy investment with an incentive program that started in July. It pays above-market rates for power from wind, solar, geothermal and other renewable sources, part of the program to diversify the sources of the nation’s energy after the meltdown at Fukushima two years ago.

Britain and Germany are leading the world in developing offshore wind projects, taking advantage of steady breezes in the North Sea and experience drilling for oil in the waters. Japan wants to develop the floating technology for wind farms, since its islands are surrounded by deep oceans.

Floating Windmills

Hitachi Zosen plans to start with turbines fixed to the seabed and expand to floating windmills in offshore wind, Fujita said. The company, which spun off its shipbuilding business in 2002, first will focus on the Japanese market and expand to Southeast Asian countries such as the Philippines and Indonesia.

Fujita said Statoil is providing Hitachi Zosen with technology that allow for stable power generation from turbines in the ocean, declining to elaborate citing confidentiality.

Hitachi Zosen leads a group including Toshiba Corp. (6502) and JFE Holdings Inc. (5411) to study offshore wind technology. The group plans to complete pilot plants of about 7.5 megawatts each by 2016 before building wind farms with a combined capacity of 300 megawatts in 2022.

Statoil received approval from the Maine Public Utilities Commission to build a $120 million offshore wind farm, the Portland Press Herald reported in January.

The deepwater demonstration facility in the Gulf of Maine will have four, 3-megawatt floating turbines and may begin generating power by 2016, according to the newspaper.

To contact the reporter on this story: Chisaki Watanabe in Tokyo at cwatanabe5@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reed Landberg at landberg@bloomberg.net

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