Japan to decommission floating offshore wind test turbines

The Japanese government has decided to remove floating offshore wind pilot turbines off Fukushima due to concerns about profitability, according to the Japanese Wind Power Association

The 2MW Hitachi test turbine on a floating platform off Fukushima

Two pioneering floating offshore wind turbines at a test site off the coast of Fukushima, Japan, are to be decommissioned next year, according to media reports.

The ministry of economy, trade and industry (Meti) has set aside around JPY 5 billion ($48 million) to remove the two Hitachi turbines – a 5MW unit and a 2MW one – and accompanying substation, according to the Tokyo Shimbun.

It is decommissioning the turbines because they are unprofitable due to their low availability, the Japanese Wind Power Association (JWPA) stated.

A 7MW Mitsubishi turbine, also installed off Fukushima, was decommissioned in June.

The turbines were installed at a test site near the old Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, which was devastated by a tsunami in 2011.

Japan had a rethink of its energy strategy following the 2011 nuclear disaster, shifting its focus to renewables – although progress in exploiting its vast coastline for offshore wind has been slow.

New prime minister Yoshihide Suga recently unveiled an ambition to reach carbon neutrality by 2050, which the JWPA believes would require 130GW of wind power capacity by mid-century, including 90GW of offshore wind.

The government launched the country’s second offshore wind auction at the end of November, with four sites available off Akita and Chiba prefectures. Each site is expected to support 300-350MW of offshore wind capacity, and the tender is due to end at the end of May 2021.

Meti had launched a tender for a floating offshore wind project off Nagasaki prefecture in June.

Developers including Iberdrola, the Green Investment Group, Equinor, Aker Solutions, RWE, Sumitomo, Northland Power and Shizen Energy are among a long list of partnerships targeting Japan’s nascent offshore wind market.