Legislation due to be discussed in an extraordinary session of the Diet, Japan’s bicameral legislature, could clear the way for tenders for offshore wind energy projects in 2019.
Sources at the Japan Wind Energy Association said the Japanese cabinet has approved a measure that was held up earlier this year known as the offshore wind general waters bill.
Law firm Baker McKenzie said the next step for the bill is for it to discussed and passed at an extraordinary Diet session that will run until December. “It is possible that the new law could be confirmed as early as this month,” the law firm said.
Ean Mac Pherson, a partner at the company’s Tokyo practice, said it was not out of the question that the industry could see the first round of bids getting underway in 2019.
Long seen as a potentially significant market for offshore wind – and for floating offshore wind in particular – the legislation and other policy developments in Japan could mean it is about to reach the point where projects can actually get underway, as highlighted by another law firm, Linklaters, in a report, Japan offshore wind: approaching a tipping point.
As Linklaters noted, Japan has an ambition of decarbonising its economy by 2050 and offshore wind power is expected to play a key role. However, historically wind power developers faced challenges such as geography, climatic conditions and legal/regulatory issues.
Now however, the combination of new technology – primarily in the form of floating wind turbines – availability of insurance coverage and strong regulatory and policy support in recent months has the potential to unlock the offshore wind market in Japan.
“The industry is gaining momentum and we genuinely believe it is approaching a tipping point,” said Linklaters.