The government of Japan has launched its first-ever auction for fixed bottom offshore wind projects within the country’s General Common Sea Area. The Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI), and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism (MLIT) opened the auction for applications on November 27, 2020. The tender will remain open until May 27, 2021.

The auction covers four offshore wind zones. Three zones are located off Akita Prefecture: Noshiro (Mitane Town and Oga City), Yurihonjo City North, and Yurihonjo City South. The fourth zone, Choshi City, is situated off Chiba Prefecture.

A consortium of eight Japanese companies led by Sumitomo Corporation is expected to participate in the auction with a 480 MW Noshiro-Mitane-Oga project. The Yurihonjo City zones will likely attract a joint bid submitted by RWE Renewables and Kyuden Mirai Energy. The zones off Akita Prefecture are also of interest to the consortium comprising Equinor, Electric Power Development (J-Power), and JERA. The Choshi City zone will most likely draw a bid from Ørsted and TEPCO which earlier this year established a joint venture company for the purpose of participating in offshore wind auctions in Japan.

This is Japan’s second offshore wind auction since the new Renewable Sea Area Utilization Law came into power in April 2019. The first auction was launched in June for the development of a floating offshore wind farm off Goto City, Nagasaki Prefecture.

All of the areas in the two auctions were identified as potentially suitable for the development of offshore wind farms in the summer of 2019. The five zones soon after underwent wind and geological surveys.