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Japan’s JERA plans 600-MW offshore wind project

19 March 2021

Japanese public utility company JERA plans to develop a 600 megawatt (MW) offshore wind power generation project and install up to 63 wind turbines in waters off Aomori prefecture, the northern tip of the country's main island of Honshu.

The wind farm would be the newest proposed renewables project for Japan's largest power provider, as the company moves towards meeting its commitment to reach net-zero emissions for its operations worldwide by 2050.

In a statement released 8 March, JERA said the favorable wind conditions and shallow seabed off the city of Tsugaru and town of Ajigasawa in Aomori prefecture make the area suitable for the development of bottom-fixed offshore wind power generation. The project will cover a surface area of 120 square kilometers and construction is expected to take 36 months.

Four phases of submissions

JERA submitted its Primary Environmental Impact Consideration Document to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) on 9 March and the review is expected to be complete 8 April. The document outlined environmental conservation concerns that need to be considered at the project planning stage. Public comment on the environmental impact is also being sought.

Submission of the Primary Environmental Impact Consideration Document is the first of four phases stipulated under the Environmental Impact Assessment law.

"JERA will continue to move the project forward under the guidance of the METI and other related authorities, giving due consideration to the opinions of other stakeholders," the company said.

In August 2020, JERA announced a 520-MW offshore wind project in Ishikari Bay, off the coast of the northernmost Japanese island of Hokkaido. The Planning Phase Environmental Impact Statement was submitted in the same month.

Gas-fired replacement units

The company is also pursuing construction of two natural gas-fired units at its own power station in the city of Chita in Aichi prefecture, known as the industrial hub of Japan. The project also involves decommissioning five existing units, while retaining unit 6. JERA said it plans to adopt the latest high-efficiency combined-cycle power generation system with a gross thermal efficiency of approximately 63% to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

"The environmental burden due to smoke and warm wastewater is expected to be lower when the plan [is] carried out than for operations at the existing facility," it added.

The company on 16 March submitted the Environmental Impact Assessment Scoping Document for the construction of Chita units 7 and 8 to METI; the governor of Aichi Prefecture; the mayor of Chita City, and the mayor of Tokai City in accordance with the Environmental Impact Assessment Law and Electricity Business Act. A public consultation will be held on 26 March.

Existing offshore wind projects

JERA has so far participated in offshore wind projects in the UK and Taiwan, most recently the Formosa 3 project off the central-western coast of Taiwan, comprising three separate sites with a total potential capacity of 2 GW. JERA holds a 43.75% share of the Formosa 3 project, while Macquarie's Green Investment Group and EnBW hold 31.25% and 25%, respectively.

JERA was previously involved in Taiwan's Formosa 1 — the country's first commercial offshore wind farm in the Taiwan Strait — and Formosa 2 offshore wind projects.

JERA was set up in 2015 as a joint venture of two major Japanese electric companies, Tokyo Electric Power Group and the Chubu Electric Power Group.

Original reporting by Soo Cheng Bernadette Lee.

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