Ørsted could be ready to enter the Choshi project near Tokyo in a Japanese offshore wind auction in the second half of 2020, if it succeeds in forging a joint venture partnership with local utility TEPCO, said CEO Henrik Poulsen.

The global offshore wind giant signed a memorandum of understanding with TEPCO a year ago over co-development of large-scale projects, with Choshi slated to be the first they advance together.

Poulsen on Thursday said talks with TEPCO are ongoing, but the project has the potential to enter Japan’s debut offshore wind round expected in the second half of the year.

“We are having good productive conversations with TEPCO. It’s still a work in progress, but we are progressing,” he told journalists on a call to discuss its full-year financial results.

“If we were to get that project qualified, and if we establish a JV, it might be a candidate for the Japanese auction in the second half.”

Ørsted’s regional chief told Recharge after the MoU was signed that Choshi would be a fixed-bottom offshore wind project of “several hundred megawatts or more”, with local reports since suggesting it could be up to 1GW in scale.

The expected first round of large-scale Japanese auctions is eagerly awaited by the global offshore wind sector, which sees the nation as the next big new regional market to emerge beyond Europe.

Japan’s parliament in 2019 passed legislation clearing the way for first offshore wind tenders to take place this year to underpin long-term development of the sector, while the government has set a 10GW wind target (onshore and offshore combined) for 2030.

Poulsen told reporters Japan is just one of “six or seven” tenders on Ørsted’s radar in 2020, saying the developer thinks there is a “high likelihood” of another offshore wind round in Taiwan.

He also cited Maryland, the Netherlands, New York and New Jersey.