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Clean Power Graphic credit: Mitsubishi Corp.

Published on January 22nd, 2013 | by Andrew

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Japanese Industrial Giant Ramps Up Offshore Wind Activities



Japanese industrial giant Mitsubishi Corporation is ramping up activities in the offshore wind energy sector. At a time when Japan — as well the EU, the US, China, and countries around the world — are increasingly turning to wind, solar, and other clean, renewable energy resource development to fuel sustainable growth, news this week indicates that Mitsubishi Corporation – “a global integrated business enterprise that develops and operates businesses across virtually every industry” — apparently sees promise in owning and developing offshore wind power projects.

Mitsubishi Corporation is taking a 50% equity stake in the Netherlands’ 129 megawatt (MW) Eneco Luchterduinen project, which is due to begin construction in the Dutch North Sea July 2014, according to a January 21 Bloomberg News report.

Last week, news broke that Mitsubishi will invest some €576 million ($770 milliion) to help build critical grid interconnections for offshore wind farms in Germany. Back home, Mitsubishi is one of 11 leading Japanese industrial corporations taking part in a pioneering effort to build the world’s first large-scale floating offshore wind farm off Fukushima, the locus of the 3/11 tsunami and nuclear power plant disaster.

Graphic credit: Mitsubishi Corp.

Offshore Wind Energy Development: Mitsubishi’s Growing Presence

By investing in the 129 MW Eneco Luchterduinen offshore wind farm, Mitsubishi will be contributing to the Netherland governments’ goal of increasing the share of the country’s electrical power produced from renewable sources to 16% by 2020, a new, higher target set by the Dutch cabinet, which took office in November. Eneco Luchterduinen is slated to be commissioned sometime after summer 2015.

Vestas Wind Systems is to supply 43 of its model V112 wind turbines for the offshore wind farm. Once up and running, Eneco Luchterduinen will produce enough clean, renewable energy to meet the needs of some 150,000 households, according to the Rotterdam-based power utility, which has been reported to be investing as much as €500 million ($650 million) in the project.

“Mitsubishi Corp. will continue to seek other opportunities to expand its participation in environmentally friendly infrastructure projects worldwide,” Bloomberg quoted Mitsubishi executive vice president for global environment and infrastructure business development Nobuaki Kojima as saying.

Last week, Netherlands grid operator Tennet, which is playing a key role in the realization of Germany’s ambitious plans to phase out and replace all its nuclear power plants with renewable power generation capacity by 2022, announced Mitsubishi is investing €576 million ($767 million) for a 49% ownership share of a €2.9 billion ($3.77 billion) high-voltage cable that will link four German offshore wind farms to the German grid.

Situated more than 100 kilometers (62 miles) offshore, the four offshore wind farms have a total power generation capacity of 2.8 gigawatts (GW), more than that of two nuclear power plants. Tennet has contracted to link a total of ten offshore wind farms to the German grid and needs to invest some €5.8 billion ($7.55 billion) in doing so, according to a Huffington Post news report.

Developing Offshore Wind Power in Japan

In Japan, Mitsubishi is participating in a pioneering effort to construct the world’s first floating offshore wind farm. Led by project integrator Marubeni, the project plans call for construction of three floating wind turbines and one floating power sub-station to be tethered to the sea floor off the coast of Fukushima Prefecture in Japan’s Tohoku region northeast of Tokyo.

“We believe that creating a practical wind farm business scheme through this experimental project could lead to the deployment of large scale floating wind farms in the future,” Mitsubishi Corp. elaborates on its website.

“Moreover, taking advantage of the experience and knowledge gained through this, the world’s first floating wind farm, this business could be expanded on a global basis and lead to the development of a new Japanese export industry.”

Launched last year, the first phase of the project calls for one 2 MW floating wind turbine, the world’s first 66 kilovolt (kV) floating power sub-station, and undersea cable to be installed, according Mitsubishi Corp’s project profile.

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About the Author

I've been reporting and writing on a wide range of topics at the nexus of economics, technology, ecology/environment and society for some five years now. Whether in Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Americas, Africa or the Middle East, issues related to these broad topical areas pose tremendous opportunities, as well as challenges, and define the quality of our lives, as well as our relationship to the natural environment.



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