MOL Continues to Seek Opportunities Related to Offshore Wind
Japan’s shipping industry continues to seek ways to participate in the emerging offshore wind energy sector. In the latest development, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL) and Toyo Construction Co. signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to explore a potential collaboration in offshore wind power plant construction. The companies said the goal is to commercialize vessels for offshore construction related to offshore wind power projects in Japan and overseas.
MOL has set expanding and accelerating activities in energy and offshore power as one of its business goals. In April 2021, they announced the launch of their new Wind Power Energy Business Division, specializing in offshore wind power and its related business. Detailing plans for a restructuring of its operations, MOL highlighted goals to establish businesses not limited to transportation and to strengthen investments in the offshore business.
Japan has been moving forward with its first large-scale offshore wind projects, while the government has set ambitious goals for the build out of the industry. At the end of 2020, the government announced an initial target of 10 gigawatts by 2030 expanding to 45 GW by 2040. The majority of sites considered to have the highest potential for offshore wind power in Japan are in deep water, meaning that they will need to develop new technologies including the use of floating wind turbines.
MOL said the purpose of its new partnership is to open up new business opportunities for the work vessels that will be required for offshore wind power projects. Experts have estimated that the industry as a whole will face a shortage of the vessels required to build and support the offshore wind power business.
MOL working with Toyo Construction, a company that its predecessors helped to establish, expects to meet the demand for various types of work vessels in offshore wind power projects in Japan and overseas by combining MOL's track record in construction, ownership, and operation of vessels with Toyo Construction's knowledge of marine engineering and technological development in offshore wind power.
This partnership expands on several other projects that MOL has also announced in offshore energy. Among the projects, MOL will be operating for a joint venture a new SOV built specifically for Taiwan’s emerging offshore energy business. Being built at the Vard Vung Tau shipyard in Vietnam, the vessel is the first SOV tailor-made for the Asian wind farm market. Named TSS Pioneer, the vessel will operate under a 15-year contract with Orsted to service the Greater Changhua Offshore Wind Farm.
In addition, MOL is also participating in an effort to develop the floating offshore wind technology that will be required in Japan and they recently announced a new partnership focusing on the installation of the cables required to transfer power for the wind turbines to shore.