Floating turbine up in Japan

Japan’s Ministry of the Environment (MOE) has switched on a 2MW Hitachi floating turbine off the city of Goto in Nagasaki prefecture.

Environment Minister Nobuteru Ishihara said the launch marks a “new era in the use of renewable energy”. He also said that Japan aims to commercialise floating offshore wind as quickly as possible.

The new 2MW turbine, which is mounted on a platform provided by construction services specialist Toda, will be tested for at least 18 months as part of a five-year demonstration project.

Its original planned launch date earlier this month was delayed by typhoons. It is one of several floating offshore trials currently under development in Japan.

In June 2012, the government installed its first floating turbine, a 100kW machine supplied by Fuji Heavy Industries, off  Kabashima in western Japan. The MOE has already invested more than ¥5bn ($51.5m) in the Kabashima project.

Tokyo is keenly interested in developing floating turbine systems because its coastal waters are particularly deep, making them unsuitable for conventional fixed foundations.

This summer, conglomerate Marubeni and the University of Tokyo led a group of 10 companies to install a 2MW Hitachi turbine off the coast of Fukushima prefecture in eastern Japan.

That project is being developed separately from the Kabashima initiative, with the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) providing ¥22bn in funding support.