20 turbine fixed-bottom project announced for Japan

New feed-in tariff was key factor in developer's decision to invest

Maeda Corporation, a Tokyo-based construction company, has confirmed to Windpower Offshore that it will develop a 20-turbine fixed-bottom offshore wind farm in waters off Shimonoseki in southwest Japan. The company will seek to complete installation by 2016. It is likely to have a capacity of 60MW.

News of Maeda’s offshore wind plans is a sign that renewable energy feed-in tariffs (FiTs), introduced on 1 July, could drive growth in Japan’s offshore wind sector.

"The FiT decision played a role in our decision to go ahead with the project," said company spokesman, Kozo Domori. "Anything below the 23.1 yen ($0.30) price outlined in the FiT would have made it difficult to do so."

Until now, it has been widely assumed that new fixed-bottom offshore projects would not be built in Japanese waters, but that the country would focus instead on developing cost-effective floating offshore wind technology. Floating technology will be required if Japan is to develop offshore wind projects in the deep waters that hug much of its coastline. The shallow waters off Shimonoseki are an exception.

Another indication of a growing appetite for offshore wind amongst Japan’s industrialists was last month’s announcement that a consortium led by Hitachi Zosen is considering investing  €1.2bn ($1.5bn) in a 300MW project, which could include both fixed-bottom and floating turbines.

Maeda’s plan to install ten turbines in 2015, with a further ten the following year. It is investing 25bn yen ($319bn), and will aim to generate 3.5bn yen per year from electricity sales. The company has yet to decide on which turbine it will deploy. Maeda itself will be responsible for installing the turbine foundations.

The company’s construction experience includes the Kashiwazaki-Karima nuclear power plant in Niigata and the new Hong Kong International Airport. It has built several onshore wind farms, including the 30 turbine Suzu wind farm in Ishikawa prefecture on the Sea of Japan coast.