A leading law firm specialising in the region and in renewable energy says shortlisting a quartet of ‘promising zones’ and seven other candidate zones for development demonstrates significant progress is being made kick-starting the first offshore wind auctions in Japan
In a recent client alert published by partners, associates and a counsel at the law firm, Baker McKenzie said all three prefectures which may host the four promising zones (Aomori, Chiba and Nagasaki prefectures) also appear to have a high level of interest in offshore wind projects, and to have been successful to a certain degree in identifying and consulting with local stakeholders.
“This augers well for further rapid progress in offshore wind development in these prefectures,” the law firm said. While additional steps still need to be undertaken, the shortlist will allow developers to focus on these initial zones as the most likely initial areas for offshore wind development in Japan.”
As previously highlighted by OWJ, although steps are still required before these zones can be officially designated as offshore wind promotion zones, their shortlisting indicates significant planning has already taken place.
“Discussions are likely to have already occurred between the Japanese national government, prefectural governments with jurisdiction over each zone, fisheries groups and other stakeholders in preparation for use of the zones for offshore wind projects,” said Baker McKenzie. “This is welcome news for offshore wind developers in Japan and appears to demonstrate a strong will on Japan’s part to rapidly build an offshore wind power sector.”
As also highlighted by OWJ, on 1 April 2019, the ‘Law on Promotion of Use of Territorial Waters for Offshore Renewable Energy Generation Facilities’ (known as the Offshore Wind Promotion Law) came into effect. The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) subsequently began the process of identifying sites to be designated as promotion zones under the legislation.
That process got under way in February 2019 when prefectures with potential offshore wind development sites were asked to provide information on them by 15 April 2019. It was reported in April 2019 that a number of prefectures had responded to this request and had provided information on offshore zones within their jurisdiction that could be used as offshore wind power sites.
METI and MLIT used this information to select the most promising zones out of the 11 potential zones. For these four most promising zones, METI and MLIT will ‘immediately’ prepare for the formation of the required local councils and commence the required site surveys. The zones in question are Akita prefecture, Noshiro, Mitane and Oga; Akita prefecture, Yurihonjo; Chiba prefecture, Choshi; and Nagasaki prefecture, Goto.
Baker McKenzie said the announcement released by METI and MLIT did not specify the exact areas of the above zones or the capacity likely to be developed there. That kind of information will probably only become clear after a council for each area is formed, and each begins the process of finalising the precise details of each zone, the law firm said.
According to the timetable given in the Promotion Zones Selection Guidelines, the official designations are likely to be made six months from now, with auctions likely to start two months after the designations (based on the Auction Guidelines dated 11 June 2019).