Japan officially entered the offshore wind big-league today (Tuesday) as lead developer Marubeni announced the entry to service of the second and final part of the nation's first commercial-scale project.

The Akita Port element of the 140MW Akita & Noshiro project is now exporting power under Japan’s feed-in tariff (FIT) programme, Marubeni said.

The Marubeni-led conglomerate had already late last year pushed the Noshiro part of the wind farm into service off Akita Prefecture after 33 Vestas 4.2MW turbines were installed in October following a build that was made more challenging by the Covid pandemic.

Marubeni’s partners in the project included fellow Japanese heavyweights such as Chubu Electric, Tepco and Cosmo Power.

The 100bn yen ($768m) Akita & Noshiro was kicked off in 2016 as part of an early initiative by Japan to incentivise offshore wind construction in shallow waters near its ports.

Despite its economic and industrial firepower, and leaving regional superpower China aside, Japan has lagged Asian pacesetter Taiwan, which already has major offshore wind plant in its seas and well-advanced tendering programmes for multiple gigawatts more.

Japan has now started a programme of large-scale tendering designed to help it achieve some of the world’s most ambitious offshore wind targets, including allocating 10GW by 2030 and installing up to 45GW by 2040.

Marubeni is itself preparing for a big role in Japan’s offshore wind expansion, and the sector globally, including via a tie-up with oil supermajor BP agreed last year that includes the latter taking a stake in one of its Japanese projects.

Marubeni said it will “take a progressive approach to expand its renewable energy business by making most of its experience of [Akita & Noshiro].”