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Japan's largest offshore wind farm planned by oil group

A 1GW project by Cosmo Eco Power would be the joint-biggest yet planned in Japanese waters

The renewables unit of a major Japanese oil group unveiled plans to build a 1GW offshore wind farm that’s the joint-largest yet announced for the country, and could deploy floating wind technology alongside fixed foundations.

Cosmo Eco Power wants to install as many as 125 turbines in the 8-12 GW capacity range up to a maximum of 1,000MW off Ishikari Bay, Hokkaido, according to an environmental assessment report released by the firm.

The Tokyo-based company has identified eight zones for the project in 50-200-metre water depths stretching between Ishikari and Otaru cities. Fixed-bottomed and floating technology have been earmarked for six and two of the selected zones respectively.

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The firm has not announced a timeline for the project, but industry commentators in Japan said it would take three years to complete the necessary assessments before the construction could begin.

Earlier in August, another electricity group, J-Power announced a plan to develop a 722MW wind project off Ishikari Bay.

Cosmo Eco Power currently operates 230MW of onshore wind turbines at 20 sites in Japan. It is the wind power subsidy of Japan’s third-largest oil retailer, Cosmo Energy Holding.

The petroleum giant has drawn up a corporate transition plan aiming to establish wind as a new business pillar. The oil retailer increased its stake in Eco Power to 100% this April after it acquired 89.1% of the wind firm from EBARA eight years ago.

Prior to the Ishikari plan, Eco Power had already begun to conduct environmental impact reviews on two other offshore wind projects, Akita Chuo (Central) and Akita Port.

Earlier this year it announced it would invest in the 500MW Aomori Northwest offshore project previously led by Hitachi Zosen. The two have set up a 50-50 joint venture for the project's development.

Eco Power is also a stakeholder in Renovo’s Akita project, off Yurihonjo, originally designed at 700MW but poised to increase to 1GW by specifying 9.5MW turbines.

Early this year Japan’s parliament passed long-awaited legislation paving the way for robust offshore wind development in the East Asian island nation. Following the passage, local energy groups sped up their wind activity in Japanese waters, with multiple offshore projects kicking off pre-construction works.

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