German utilty E.ON has signed a cooperation deal with Japanese renewables developer Kyuden Mirai Energy to develop offshore wind power projects in Japan.

The deal, which focuses on bottom-fixed developments rather than floating, will start with a study for a wind farm off Kyushu, the southernmost island of Japan, with the company noting they may “consider expanding the partnership to other regions” of the island nation.

“Our strategy to enter the Japanese market is based on trustful and long-term cooperation with local players,” said at E.ON Climate & Renewables chief operating officer Sven Utermöhlen.

“We feel that Kyuden Mirai Energy is an excellent partner for us. Our capabilities complement each other while we share the same values and the ambition to drive offshore wind growth in Japan.”

E.ON's renewables assets and projects later this year will become part of a new RWE that bundles the green power activities of E.ON and RWE renewables unit Innogy, once all relevant competition authorities have given their green light.

Kyuden Mirai Energy president Yasuji Akiyama added: “This year could be the memorial year for offshore wind industry in Japan with the new general sea law promoting offshore wind.

“It is a great timing for us to start joint activities with E.ON as the best partner for us to enter into the new market. E.ON has remarkable experience in fixed-bottom offshore wind and shares the same view on local stakeholder engagement.”

The cooperation agreement with Kyuden Mirai Energy follows E.ON’s recent decision to enter the Japanese wind market, with the developer, which has a 1.8GW offshore wind portfolio in Europe, recently opening in Tokyo.

Kyuden Mirai Energy is the lead developer of the about 220MW Hibikinada offshore wind farm, the first tendered project under revised laws of port management in Japan.

After a slow start, Japan – which currently only has 65MW of installed offshore wind capacity – is looking to make up for lost time, with its parliament, the Diet, late last year passing the long-awaited Offshore Wind General Waters Act.

The island nation, which offers potential for both fixed and floating deployment – is regularly tipped as one of the most promising of Asia’s emerging wave of offshore wind markets for both bottom-fixed and floating, along with nations such as Vietnam and South Korea, as the region moves beyond early pacesetters China and Taiwan.

Most recently regional utility Tohoku Electric Power joined developer Renova in laying plans to develop a 700MW offshore wind farm that is among the biggest largest planned off Japan.

Research group Wood Mackenzie are among analysts predicting “explosive” growth in the Asia's offshore wind markets over the next decade.