Offshore Wind

GE, Toshiba Join to Support Japan's Offshore Wind Sector

A Japanese news service said General Electric (GE) will join with Toshiba to establish a supply chain for equipment that would support Japan’s offshore wind power industry.

Nikkei, a Tokyo-based financial and business news outlet, on July 16 reported that the deal is another move by Japanese officials as part of the country’s zero-carbon strategy. Japan is among several countries that have said they want to decarbonize their power generation sectors by 2035.

A study published earlier this year by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California said declining costs of wind, solar, and battery energy storage mean that Japan could get as much as 90% of its electricity from clean energy sources by 2035. The country today relies heavily on imports of liquefied natural gas to fuel much of its power generation, although imports of LNG have fallen as more renewable energy comes online.

Japan also continues to burn coal for power generation, though officials have said they want to phase out older, inefficient coal-fired plants by 2030. Two new coal-fired facilities came online in 2022—Takeyoto No. 5, with a capacity of just more than 1 GW, and Misumi Power Station Unit 2, with a capacity of 1 GW.  The country has an additional 3 GW of coal-fired generation capacity either under construction or planned to come online by 2026.

Clean Electricity

Officials have said that clean electricity, which they define as generation from solar, wind, hydropower, biomass, hydrogen, and nuclear power, accounts for about one-quarter of the country’s generation. Japan continues a slow restart of its nuclear power plants, after all the country’s reactors were shut down after the Fukushima disaster in 2011. Officials earlier this year said 10 reactors have been restarted, with another 17 being prepared to restart.

Japan is looking at offshore wind as major component of its decarbonization push. Officials have said they want to install as much as 10 GW of offshore wind generation capacity by 2030, increasing to as much as 45 GW by 2040.

The government in June finished accepting bids for a second round of offshore wind power tenders to build 1.8 GW of capacity in four areas, including a 700-MW development in the Sea of Japan off Niigata prefecture on the country’s west coast, south of Akita. The results have yet to be announced.

Mitsubishi won the first round of tenders, in 2021, for 1.7 GW of offshore wind capacity.

Supply Chain

The Nikkei report said the GE supply chain would include about 100 small to medium-sized companies. The report said the focus would be on areas that could serve likely offshore wind installation sites. The news service said Toshiba expects to begin its equipment production in 2026.

Toshiba and GE in 2021 announced a strategic partnership to manufacture GE’s Haliade-X offshore wind turbines in Japan. GE at the time said having manufacturing in Japan would make the company more competitive in auctions for the country’s offshore wind leases.

The Japan Wind Power Association said GE will manufacture 134 wind turbines, each with 13 MW of capacity, for the three offshore wind projects won by the Mitsubishi-led consortiums in the first auction round. The association said Toshiba would assemble the turbine components. Toshiba has said it will build storage facilities for parts, and establish a network to provide offshore wind operations and maintenance services.

Darrell Proctor is a senior associate editor for POWER (@POWERmagazine).

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