Japan takes global lead in developing floating offshore wind technology (5-MW offshore turbine successfully installed on a floating structure)
On July 8, the 5-MW Hitachi HTW 5.0-126 wind turbine, mounted on a floating platform, has been successfully sited off the coast of Fukushima prefecture. The turbine is one of three and the final piece of the “Fukushima Forward”-floating offshore wind farm demonstrator, an experimental research project financed with around JPY53bn (ca. EUR477m) by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI). The project is part of the overall project to reconstruct and recover the affected areas damaged by the earthquake 2011, which focuses on renewable energy as a pillar for its recovery.
The Fukushima Forward wind farm is currently the world largest. The successful finalization of the flagship project received worldwide attention and reinforced Japan’s position as a global leader in this sector. According to METI, the turbine's rated capacity of 5 MW will make it the second largest capacity in the world behind the 7 MW already installed in the Fukushima Forward project.
The 5 MW-turbine had been undergoing assembly off the coast of Sumoto Port on Awajishima Island, Hyogo Prefecture. The base for the turbine was constructed in Sakai, Osaka Prefecture. With its completion, tugboats began the slow trip to waters off Fukushima Prefecture. Traveling at a speed equivalent to a human adult walking at a brisk pace, or between six to eight kph, the turbine completed the journey of about 960 kilometers and reached the waters where it was permanently installed on July 8. The project was developed by several companies and research institutes. Japanese company Marubeni acted as project integrator for the consortium (see all members in table on page 2). The 62m-blades had been supplied by a German company. The blade-tip stands about 150 meters above water at its highest point.
The Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) previously announced that the project is one step on the road to 1000 MW by 2020 with 140 floating turbines planned in operation. The ambitious plans are linked to the Japanese government announcement that the 2020 Olympics will be powered at least partly by floating wind turbines.
Fig. 1: The new floating 5-MW Hitachi HTW 126, on the way to its final site off the Fukushima coast.
Fig. 2: Fukushima Forward consortium members
Fukushima Forward Consortium
Project coordinator, responsible for initial feasibility studies, licensing, O&M and liaising with regional fishing
University of Tokyo
Technical adviser, responsible for measurements, predictions, navigational safety and public relations
Overseas grid integration and EIA
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries
Designed V-shaped submersible floater, supplier of 7 MW SeaAngel turbine in phase II
Japan Marine United
Co-designed 66kV floating substation and advanced spar floater
Mitsui Engineering &
Designed compact semi-submersible floater for first turbine
Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal
Supplied advanced steel
Supplied 2 MW and 5 MW turbine, co-designed 66kV floating substation
Supplied undersea and dynamic cables
Responsible for oceanic surveys and construction technologies
Mizuho Information and Research Institute
Responsible for documentation and committee operations
EU-Japan Centre Comments:
Prepared by Ines Heger (Minerva Research Fellow, EU-Japan Centre for Industrial Cooperation)Sources:
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