Untapped offshore wind is luring Japan’s biggest commodity houses to invest in projects in Taiwan and at home, buoyed by favorable government policies that support development of the clean power.
Mitsui & Co this month bought a stake in Taiwanese wind developer Yushan Energy Co (玉山能源) that gives the Tokyo-based company a 20 percent stake in a 300-megawatt (MW) offshore project that might cost US$1.8 billion to develop.
Mitsubishi Corp is working with partners to build a separate wind farm venture off Taiwan’s coast and Marubeni Corp is developing two offshore projects in the northern Japanese prefecture of Akita.
“Asia is at the dawn of development of its offshore wind market,” Yoshio Kometani, chief operating officer of Mitsui’s infrastructure projects business unit, said in an e-mail. “Taiwan is especially promising as it has favorable natural conditions and the government is taking initiative to improve investment and development opportunities.”
Buffeted by strong breezes in the Taiwan Strait, the island has emerged as a hot spot for clean power projects as President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) works to phase out nuclear energy while adding 25 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy by 2025.
Taiwan is seeking to boost offshore wind capacity to 5.5GW over the same timeframe, from just 8MW.
In Japan, the government is working on legislation that standardizes offshore wind development guidelines and streamline the approval process for new projects. The Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry in March updated its offshore wind map with more data on conditions and the agency is accelerating the environmental impact assessment process.
Globally, there are about 18GW of offshore wind capacity and Europe accounts for more than 80 percent of that, with the rest mostly in Asia, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
Asia is expected to add 3.5GW of offshore wind capacity in 2030, more than double the 1.5GW to be added in Europe the same year, according to estimates in a report from BNEF in December last year.
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