Japanese energy companies to assess floating vertical-axis offshore wind turbines

Four Japanese energy companies plan to explore the potential for vertical-axis floating wind turbines and aim to install a 20kW prototype as part of a demonstration project.

Electric Power Development, Tokyo Electric Power, Chubu Electric Power, and transport company Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha signed a joint agreement to work on the feasibility study.

They claimed that a vertical-axis design – which differs from ‘conventional’ horizontal-axis wind turbines – could have lower manufacturing costs and require less maintenance.

Japan currently has 228MW of operational offshore wind capacity, according to Windpower Intelligence, the research and data division of Windpower Monthly. 

The country’s geography presents challenges to developing greater energy security using renewables with mountainous terrain, deep coastal waters, and a risk of seismic activity and typhoons. As such, much of Japan’s present energy mix comes from imported fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas. 

Consequently the government is aiming to expand floating offshore wind suited for deep waters in the coming years, with a target of 10GW of offshore wind capacity by 2030 and 30-45GW by 2040.