MOL Expands Investments in Wind Energy by Buying Maintenance Company

Japan offshore wind
MOL is acquiring a maintenance company after investing in Japan's emerging wind sector (Kitakyushu-Hibikinada Offshore Wind Farm)

Published Jan 10, 2024 8:35 PM by The Maritime Executive

As part of its strategy to expand into the offshore wind energy sector and other non-shipping businesses, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines has agreed to acquire a majority of the outstanding shares of Hokutaku Co., Japan's largest wind turbine maintenance company. The acquisition represents an expansion of a relationship between the companies that also includes a wind investment fund and is part of MOL’s expansion into offshore wind.

Hokutaku is the largest third-party maintenance company in Japan that is not affiliated with a specific manufacturer or power producer. It has been servicing the onshore wind energy sector since 1999 and has developed an extensive customer base. MOL reports the company currently serves about 80 percent of the approximately 2,600 wind turbines in Japan. 

MOL notes that while Hokutaku has a sufficient track record and operation and maintenance (O&M) technology performance, it is moving away from individual ownership amid the industry's rapid growth in size and project scale. They highlight that appropriate long-term maintenance is essential to support the stable operation of wind power generation plants. Hokutaku is also focusing on the development of maintenance technical engineers and is using its wind power generation plants for training and experimental studies.

MOL began discussions with Hokutaku in 2017, and in 2022 launched a joint investment company focusing on opportunities in offshore wind. They said they planned to invest nearly $70 million in offshore wind projects. In 2023, they made their first investment by acquiring a 10 percent stake in Hibiki Wind Energy, which is working on the construction of the Kitakyushu-Hibikinada Offshore Wind Farm, which at 238 MW will be one of the largest offshore wind projects in Japan. It is due to start commercial operation by the end of FY2025. The companies are also jointly pursuing the development of onshore wind power projects in Shimane Prefecture in southern Japan on Honshu Island.

The MOL Group is pursuing offshore wind power generation and the wind power industry as part of its management plan to achieve further growth in its non-shipping business. In addition to the investment in Hokutaku, the company has invested in companies developing wind power generation technologies including floating turbines. MOL also owns Taiwan’s first SOV for the wind sector operating under charter to Ørsted and recently agreed to build a second SOV for operation in Taiwan.