Marubeni up for offshore wind installation challenges

JAPAN-The insufficient number of offshore wind installation vessels and low level of experience in the sector are the major challenges for Japanese trading firm Marubeni’s 270-MW-plus plans, according to a company official.

Marubeni power projects head Tomofumi Fukuda told Bloomberg that offshore wind is the field presenting the greatest opportunity for large-scale power projects in Japan. The company is currently involved in a government-funded demonstration project with floating turbines off Fukushima and in two projects off Akita’s coast, which will use bottom-fixed turbines with a combined capacity of 145 MW. It is also mulling a 125-MW wind park off Ibaraki and one more location, for which Fukuda declined to share details.

With Japan having installed only about 50 MW of wind turbine at sea, however, there are many challenges for offshore wind developers. The lack of vessels and experience are the “fundamental” problems, Fukuda was cited as saying. Furthermore, the offshore wind feed-in-tariff (FiT) introduced by the Japanese government is not high enough to cover the cost. Last, but not least, developers need to engage in negotiations with the local fishing industry, whose outcome is crucial for projects.

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