Milestone for Fukushima Offshore Floating Wind Farm

Published Oct 30, 2014 6:21 PM by The Maritime Executive

Preparatory works for the installation of the 7MW oil pressure drive-type wind turbine on the three-column semi-sub floater at Onahama port, Fukushima, are almost completed, and delivery of the floater from Nagasaki to Onahama started on Thursday as part of the second term of the project.

A consortium comprised of Marubeni (project integrator), the University of Tokyo (technical advisor), Mitsubishi, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Japan Marine United, Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding, Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corporation, Hitachi, Furukawa Electric, Shimizu and Mizuho Information & Research has been participating in the project to develop the experimental offshore floating wind farm since March 2012. The project is sponsored by Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. 

The project was conceived in August 2011 after the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011, and has three big themes: "By a team comprising only Japanese members," "to pioneer Japan's new international business," and "to contribute to the recovery of Fukushima." 

In Japan, there are more suitable sites on the ocean than on land for wind power generation plant. In less-populated areas, where construction cost is relatively cheap, the demand for power is small. In urban areas, where the demand is large, the construction cost is high. This relationship between cost and demand, together with environmental problems, such as noise and appearance, lead Marubeni to the conclusion that offshore wind power generation is important, especially since Japan is sixth in the world in its sea surface area when the exclusive economic zone is included.

Marubeni is one of the first companies in Japan to focus on offshore wind power generation. In 2011, Marubeni invested and participated in the Gunfleet Sands offshore wind power project. It then acquired Seajacks International, which is a U.K. service contractor of offshore bottom-fixed wind power generating plants, jointly with Innovation Network Corporation of Japan. Further, it made investment in Mainstream Renewable Power, Ireland's developer of renewable energy and is now the second largest shareholder.

Work progress on the Fukushima project to date:
•    Delivery of the three-column semi-sub floater from Nagasaki to Onahama port is in progress.
•    Construction of the nacelle for the 7MW oil pressure drive-type wind turbine is in progress at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. Yokohama Dockyard & Machinery Works.
•    Construction of the tower for 7MW oil pressure drive-type floating wind turbine is in progress at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. Kobe Dockyard & Machinery Works.
•    Mooring System & Undersea cables: Preceding works i.e. installation of chains, anchors and undersea cables at the testing area has been successfully completed.
•    Port improvement for 7MW turbine installation: Ground improvement and installation of the undersea mound at Onahama port for mounting the wind turbine on the three-column semi-sub has been successfully completed.

The following activities need to be completed to start operation of the power facilities:
Late November - Late January: Assembly of a large-scale crane at Onahama port for the purpose of the installation work
Early February: Installation of the 7MW oil pressure drive-type wind turbine on the three-column semi-sub floater, delivery of the facility and its mooring operation in the testing area.