Northern Kyushu to Host Japan’s Largest Offshore Wind Farm

Courtesy of Vestas Wind Systems A/S via Hibiki Wind Energy Co.
An offshore wind farm

FUKUOKA — A ceremony was held last week to mark the start of construction of one of Japan’s largest offshore wind power plants, which is scheduled to launch operations off the northern coast of Kyushu in fiscal 2025.

The Hibiki-nada Offshore Wind Farm under construction off the coast of Kitakyushu will have a capacity of 220,000 kilowatts.

Hibiki Wind Energy Co., which will operate the wind farm, is backed by a subsidiary of Kyushu Electric Power Co., Saibu Gas Co. and electrical engineering firm Kyudenko Corp.

Twenty-five wind turbines are set to be installed on the ocean floor in four areas around 2 to 10 kilometers off the coast, at a cost of about ¥170 billion.

Manufactured by Danish firm Vestas Wind Systems A/S, the turbines will reach a height of 200 meters above sea level, equivalent to a 50-story building, with blades spanning a diameter of 174 meters.

The wind farm’s annual power generation is expected to be 500 million kilowatt-hours, equivalent to the power consumption of 170,000 households.

The generated electricity will be sold to the transmission and distribution company of Kyushu Electric Power for ¥36 per kilowatt-hour under the feed-in tariff scheme.

“Offshore wind power is an indispensable energy source for achieving carbon neutrality,” Hibiki Wind Energy President Yutaka Mizumachi said at the ceremony. “We’ll create a new landscape, starting from Hibiki-nada.”

Although the potential for offshore wind power is high in Japan, an archipelago surrounded by oceans, rollout of the technology has lagged behind countries in Europe.

Amid such circumstances, the government is soliciting operators and promoting development in the sector, aiming to achieve a wind power target by 2040 of 30 million-45 million kilowatts, which is equivalent to about 40 nuclear power plants.

Areas of Japan that meet criteria such as wind strength, wave height and impact on the fishing industry have been designated as “promotion zones.”

Japan’s first large-scale offshore wind turbine began commercial operation in December off Noshiro Port in Akita Prefecture, and a wind farm comprising floating turbines is under development off the coast of Goto in Nagasaki Prefecture.

Local governments in coastal regions are actively seeking to attract wind farms to revitalize their economies as such facilities are thought to have a ripple effect.

Each wind turbine has about 20,000 parts, sparking hopes that “manufacturing, maintenance and logistics firms will establish bases [in the community] in the future,” Kitakyushu Mayor Kazuhisa Takeuchi said. “Such companies could become pillars of [the local] industry.”