Energy Sector:Offshore Wind, Hydrogen
Category:Countries with Cooperation Agreements
Japan is one of the leading industry nations with innovative renewable energy technologies and one of the world’s largest consumers of energy. Over the past decades, Japan has made notable achievement in installing renewable energy capacities. In 2022, renewables made up of about 22% of the whole power generation. At the same time renewable energy development is considered highly challenging due to limited land, lengthy approval process and expensive project development. Under the new strategic energy plan, the Japanese government pledged to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. To meet this goal, the renewable energy must account for about 40% of the country’s electricity mix by 2030.
The Fukushima nuclear disaster has triggered an extensive rethinking and redesigning of the energy future both at national and regional level. Fukushima is among all regions the forerunner in renewable energies. As of end of 2020, the share of renewables in Fukushima was 43%, almost double the national level. To support the reconstruction from the nuclear disaster and move forward towards a new energy society, the local government has taken many steps to accelerate the expansion and use of renewable energies, in particular to focus on developing hydrogen economy. Furthermore, Fukushima aims to become a regional hub for renewable energy research center. The Fukushima Prefecture has formulated “the plan for new energy society” with the ambition to power the whole region with 100% renewable energies by 2040.
As of 2022, Japan has installed 5,1 GW wind power capacities. The offshore wind today still accounts for a fraction, with just 136 MW. The Japanese government recognizes that offshore wind can become a major source of support to reach its net-zero target and decarbonize the heavy industry. Hence, it has launched various policies and initiatives to drive the deployment of wind energy forward. For example, Japan introduced its first offshore wind power vision in 2020, which is targeting 10 GW by 2030 and 30-45 GW by 2040.
Japan has considerable offshore wind resources, especially in the north of the country with most of the potential in deep waters. The Global Offshore Wind Council estimates that Japan has a potential for around 128 GW capacity for fixed-bottom projects and 424 GW for floating offshore wind. European and international players have realized the attractiveness of Japan’s wind market. Leading developers and turbine manufacturers such as RWE, Orsted, Vestas and Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy have been active in Japan for many years. Japan can take advantage of the technology advance and cost improvements in offshore wind industry and draw lessons and experiences from European countries in all aspects of offshore wind, from regulation designing, permitting process to financial incentives.
Japan’s journey to building the offshore wind industry will also face challenges. The complex and mountainous terrain, the coastal deep waters and the earthquake and typhoons require expert knowledge and suitable technology to make use of the wind resources.
The Japanese-German Energy Partnership
In June 2019, Germany and Japan agreed to further strengthen their bilateral cooperation for a successful energy transition. The established Energy Partnership will allow a fruitful and mutually beneficial exchange on innovation, digitization, and flexibility in the field of renewable energies, grid modernization and the use of hydrogen.
Within the energy partnership, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi), Japanese Agency for Natural Resources and Energy (ANRE) of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) have jointly adopted a roadmap which decided the establishment of two working groups among other things. The working group “energy transition” comprises renewable energy and energy efficiency and the second one is dedicated to hydrogen and covers all aspects of the production, distribution, and use of this technology.
In 2018 and 2019, EEHH and the city of Hamburg have respectively signed a MoU with EnergyAgency.Fukushima (EA.F) and Prefecture Fukushima with the aim to cooperate in the areas of renewable energy and to support the market entry and business activities of companies in both regions. As part of the renewal of the municipal MoU in April 2023, hydrogen has been included as new focus area for collaboration.
The offshore wind development in Japan marked with a milestone as the Japan’s first large-scale offshore wind farm Hoshiro Port with 20 fixed-bottom 4.2 MW turbines begun producing electricity in December 2022. In the second neighboring site Akita Port, another 13 wind turbines are expected to be commissioned in 2023. Combined, the two wind farms can generate up to 140 MW green electricity, enough to power around 130.000 Japanese households.