Japanese engineering giant Hitachi Zosen has agreed a deal with French marine renewables technology outfit Naval Energies to develop floating wind power projects off the Asian island nation.

The cooperation, signed recently during the visit to Japan of the French President Emmanuel Macron, will kick-off with a feasibility study to jointly build a “several hundred megawatt” development using Naval Energies' three-columned semisubmersible design.

Hitachi Zosen wind power division general manager Takashi Fujita said: “Among all floaters developed in the world, we consider that Naval Energies' floater, which has many advantages, is one of the best on the market.

“We appreciate that Naval Energies is participating with us in this feasibility study and we hope that [we] will contribute to the development of an industrial floating wind energy industry in Japan.”

Naval Energies president Laurent Schneider-Maunoury added: "We are very proud to have been selected by Hitachi Zosen for this study and look forward to continuing our collaboration with the objective of becoming an industrial partner for the design and manufacture of floaters.

“The environmental conditions in Japan are very favourable for the installation of this technology and we have all the necessary know-how for the local development of this new industrial sector. We hope that this step is the first of a long-lasting and fruitful collaboration between our two companies.”

The Japanese floating wind power market stalled after the 14MW Fukushima demonstrator project – which recently decommissioned one of the four units at the site – but industry views of the potential off the island nation have improved considerably recently, helped by bullish analysts forecasting “explosive growth” in Asia’s overall offshore wind fleet helping to fuel 723GW of global additions in the 2019-28 period.

Last month, a deal was inked between Naval Energies compatriot Ideol and Japanese renewable energy developer Shizen Energy to build a “multi-hundred-megawatt” project in the East China Sea, in what is in the frame to be the first commercial-scale floating wind farm off Asia.

And in May, Japan formally switched on its first floating wind turbine since the high-profile 2014 Fukushima Forward project, the so-called Hibiki pilot, which marries a 3.2MW Aerodyn two-bladed turbine with Ideol’s open-centred steel ‘damping pool’ platform –which was built by Hitachi Zosen.

Naval Energies (then DCNS) in 2017 spun off a marine renewable energy division to develop floating wind, in-stream tidal, and ocean thermal energy conversion technologies, but has since focused on first of these three.

The company is involved in one or the four consortia developing floating wind arrays off France for switch-on in 2020/21.

From a single industrial-scale prototype in 2009, floating wind is now progressing at a clip toward commercialisation, with arrays online or in development off Scotland, Portugal and France, Korea and in the US Pacific, as well as off Japan. With a next generation of floating wind concepts now heading for prototype testing , many analyst forecasts point to a fleet of 15GW or larger by 2030.