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Japan launches auction for Happo-Noshiro offshore wind project

Japan has opened an auction to select operators for a new offshore wind power project in Happo-Noshiro zone off Akita prefecture.

The area could support a project up to 356 megawatts (MW) in generating capacity. The auction opened last week and the deadline for bids to be submitted is 10 June 2022. The winner will be announced by December 2022.

Karah Howard of Pinsent Masons said: “Japan’s renewable procurement is largely limited to onsite projects, so this auction for the Happo-Noshiro offshore wind project is an essential first step on the ladder towards achieving Japan’s ambitious targets of 10GW offshore wind capacity by 2030 and 30-45 GW by 2040, and the creation of a domestic market. This is particularly so given Japan’s energy consumption is currently dominated by coal and gas sources, and the public’s continued abhorrence of nuclear power. Given Japan position as the fifth largest greenhouse gas emitter, its aim for carbon-neutrality by 2050 will require a major shift in its position.”

The results of auctions for three other projects - two in Akita and one in Chiba - were expected to be announced in November by the the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI). However, this has not yet happened, according to a Reuters report.

Offshore wind farm turbines on the ocean

In July 2020, the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy (ANRE) under the METI and the Ports and Harbours Bureau under the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) designated the planned project area as one of four “promising sea areas for which preparations for organizing the council and other actions will start” under the Act on Promoting the Utilization of Sea Areas for the Development of Marine Renewable Energy Power Generation Facilities.

In April 2019, Japan’s Act of Promoting Utilization of Sea Areas in Development of Power Generation Facilities Using Maritime Renewable Energy Resources came into effect, focusing on wind power in maritime areas.

Japan aims to install 10GW of offshore wind power by 2030 and between 30 and 45GW by 2040 as part of plans to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 that Japan's prime minister Yoshihide Suga announced in October 2020.

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