On Wednesday, Norway’s Equinor—the global energy giant formerly known as Statoil, now on a quest to become the world’s leading “offshore major”— announced that it is partnering with Japan’s largest power generator Jera and utility J-POWER on a joint bid for that country’s first-ever auction of offshore wind capacity.

“We have joined forces with Jera and J-Power, two strong local partners, to participate in Japan’s first offshore wind auction and develop what could potentially be Equinor’s first offshore wind farm in Japan,” said Jens Økland, Equinor’s Senior Vice President for Business Development in New Energy Solutions, upon announcing the deal.

The consortium will bid for capacity in the areas of Yurihonjo and Noshiro, near the northern prefecture of Akita, which the Japanese government has designated as offshore wind “promotional zones.” These areas are expected to sustain fixed-bottom offshore wind farms of approximately 400 MW and 700 MW, respectively.

The Round 1 auction is set to officially open in the coming months, with bids due six months after the open. Winning bids should be announced by end of 2021, with resulting wind farms becoming operational after 2025.

Japan: Eyes on the Prize

Equinor believes Japan is a growth market with high potential for both fixed-bottom and floating offshore wind solutions. Equinor has been present in the country since 2018, and has an office in Tokyo.

“Japan has a high potential to develop a market for offshore wind. Their ambitions to increase their renewable energy sources from today’s 15-16% to about 22-24 % by 2030 hereunder a target of 10 GW wind capacity to meet their climate change commitments and become more energy independent, present exciting opportunities,” said Økland.

“The opportunities long-term, are within both bottom fixed and floating offshore wind, as waters in Japan are on average deeper than in other parts of the world. With Equinor being the leading floating offshore wind developer, we have the competence and technical skill needed and are ready to contribute long term to the country’s ambitious offshore wind plans,”

Great Minds Think Alike

Equinor’s team-up with Jera and J-POWER adds to a growing roster of other Nordic-affiliated players for Japan’s promising offshore wind market.

Late this summer, Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners, the Danish-based global fund manager with some EUR 10 billion in assets under management, announced a new, 50/50 joint venture with Tokyo’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI), to develop offshore wind projects in Hokkaido.

MHI has developed a significant, existing presence in global offshore wind in recent years through a prior JV with Danish wind turbine maker Vestas, MHI Vestas Offshore Wind. The venture began as a supplier of turbines to the European market but has recently expanded to emerging wind power markets in the Asia Pacific region. CIP, meanwhile, has been active in the Japanese market for renewable energy since 2018.

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