Hitachi Ltd. plans to expand its reach into the market for offshore wind projects by adding a production line to make the parts of a turbine that house key components such as the gear box and generators used in some of the largest wind-generation systems currently available.
The Tokyo-based company is considering adding a line to produce nacelles for 5 MW wind power systems by the end of March 2016, Hisahiro Sakai, a spokesperson for Hitachi, said by phone Wednesday. A nacelle is the box-like component that sits atop a wind turbine’s tower.
The move comes as Japan’s policy makers, manufacturers and project developers test the case for wind projects along the nation’s coastline and beyond. The largest wind turbines are typically used in such locations because of the strength of the wind.
The line will be set up at a plant in Ibaraki prefecture where nacelles for 2 MW power-generation systems are currently made, according to Sakai. The Nikkei newspaper reported earlier that Hitachi will invest several billions of yen for the additional line. Sakai declined to comment on cost.
Japan is expected to add as much as 260 MW of offshore wind capacity within the next five years, according to a Bloomberg New Energy Finance forecast, which analyzed trade ministry data.
Hitachi specializes in the development of so-called downwind power-generation systems. Downwind turbines face away from the wind, while upwind turbines face into the wind.
Hitachi’s first 5 MW downwind turbines began producing power at a station in Kamisu City, Ibaraki prefecture, east of Tokyo on Tuesday.
Hitachi’s 5 MW system has advantages over upwind turbine systems “in terms of reliability and cost effectiveness for offshore wind projects, and is suitable for Japan’s environment,” Takehiro Kawahara, an analyst for BNEF, said.
©2015 Bloomberg News
Lead image: Hitachi Ltd. Turbine Plant Credit: Bloomberg