Marubeni-led Group Wins Contract for Offshore Wind Project Study

Japanese trading company Marubeni Corp. and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. are among a group that won a contract for a feasibility study to build an offshore wind farm off the coast of Fukushima.

The group will install three floating offshore wind turbines with a total capacity of 16 megawatts by March 2016 as part of the study under a contract from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, the group said today in a statement. It will also build a transmission substation.

The pilot project “will greatly contribute to the commercialization of large-size floating offshore wind farm technology,” the group said in the statement. The study is aimed at helping Japan become a major exporter of the technology for floating offshore turbines, it said.

Japan is seeking to rely less on nuclear energy following the Fukushima Dai-Ichi disaster in March last year, with the country’s parliament passing a bill in August guaranteeing prices higher than market rates for wind, solar and geothermal energy to encourage renewable-energy development.

Japan is targeting a capacity of about 1 gigawatt from floating offshore wind turbines, Masanori Sato, a trade ministry official in charge of promoting clean energy, said by phone today, declining to give target. Most offshore wind farms around the world use wind turbines attached to foundations that are fixed on the bottom of the sea, said Justin Wu, head of wind analysis at Bloomberg New New Energy Finance in Hong Kong.

Floating offshore wind is a technology that hasn’t yet been commercialized, he said.

Wind Hub

Fukushima prefecture, home to Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s devastated atomic plant, aims to become a major hub for the production and deployment of wind turbines, according to the statement.

“There is growing expectation in Fukushima” to create jobs and start new businesses in clean energy, Seiji Nishimura, a senior manager at Nippon Steel Corp., which is part of the group, said today at a press briefing.

The trade ministry has set aside 12.5 billion yen ($154 million) as the ceiling for the initial stages of the study. Other participants in the project include Mitsubishi Corp., Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding Co. and the University of Tokyo.

Japan has cumulative wind power capacity of 2,522 megawatts, according to the Japan Power Wind Association.

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