Updated: Japanese offshore bill reintroduced

JAPAN: The cabinet has again approved a bill for the promotion of offshore wind after it was not passed before the end of this summer's parliamentary session.

A 2MW turbine being tested at the Fukushima floating turbine pilot project off Japan's east coast

This story was first published on 23 July after the closure of the Japanese Diet (parliament). It was updated on 8 November after cabinet re-approved the bill. 

Japan’s Diet (parliament) closed in July amid government scandals and deadly floods with the offshore wind bill one of five not to be passed before the deadline.

However, the bill has been reintroduced in the latest parliamentary session, approved by cabinet and has been sent to the House of Representatives.

The Japanese Wind Power Association (JWPA) stated that it expects the law to be resolved in November and that tenders could be carried out as early as next summer.

Under the proposed law, prime minister Shinzo Abe would be required to prepare a basic policy regarding offshore wind, and the government would launch a consultation on this bill.

In terms of offshore wind development, the national government’s ministries of economy, trade and industry (METI) and of land, infrastructure and transport (MLIT) would be required to work with prefectural governments to identify appropriate lease areas.

Developers could then lodge competitive bids for the use of these specified zones.

The government would review these bids and select winners based on a proposed feed-in tariff and the suitability of the developer’s plan.

Winners would then have the right to occupy and use the leased area for a maximum of 30 years and receive a feed-in tariff (FIT) for 20 years.

The bill includes no capacity target, however, and it is unclear whether transmission costs would be borne by the national government or the utility distributing power.

Japan has just 44.7MW of offshore wind currently installed, according to Windpower Intelligence, the research and data division of Windpower Monthly.

JWPA has proposed the development of 10GW of offshore wind by 2030, but the government has yet to set a firm target, law firm Baker McKenzie noted.

Earlier this year, the METI removed an 820MW limit on offshore wind capacity in Japanese waters.