Asia Pacific civil contracting giant Penta-Ocean christened the first large-scale turbine installation vessel to be built in Japan, in a clear sign the island nation’s long-dormant offshore wind market is nearing lift-off.

The Japanese government agreed legislation late in 2018 that clears the way for first tenders this spring, but without construction vessels to build wind farms off its coast, a potential 10GW market will be stalled. Only 65MW is currently online.

The CP-8001, a jack-up design from Dutch outfit GustoMSC, will be able to handle installation of turbines of up to 10MW in waters as deep as 50 metres.

“The CP-8001’s unique features allow highly efficient operations in Japanese ocean-side areas with harsh wave and weather conditions. The technology makes it most suitable for various installation works from a stable self-elevating platform,” GustoMSC commercial director Jan-Mark Meeuwisse.

Sea-trials were completed earlier this year, but the company has not revealed to which project the jack-up has first been contracted.

Japan has a narrow continental shelf, meaning much of the development of its offshore wind resource will call for floating turbines, with several 500MW and larger projects now being developed.

But even conventional bottom-fixed wind farms are expected to represent a 7-8GW market, according to Danish developer Orsted, which recently signed a memorandum of understanding with Japanese utility TEPCO to partner on “large scale” projects, starting with the 1GW Choshi wind farm.

Japan's wind power association, JWPA, estimates the country's offshore wind resource at 10GW.