Blessed with long coastlines and favourable government policies, Asia looks set to grow its offshore wind significantly over the next decade and beyond. 

As the region makes the most of its opportunities, this promises to be a very busy time – both for developers and for design teams with the local expertise to meet these regional needs.

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IREA) estimates that by 2050 Asia will be a global leader in wind power and will account for over 60% of all offshore wind capacity installed globally. The Global Wind Energy Council expects the Asian offshore market to have installed nearly 100 GW of offshore wind capacity by 2030.

Utilising long coastlines

As Japan, Korea and Taiwan continue to move away from nuclear after the Fukushima disaster in 2011, they are looking to the offshore wind potential around their long Pacific coastlines.

Japan has the seventh longest coastline in the world and has challenged itself to establish 10GW of offshore wind power by 2030. Taiwan has approved more than 5.7GW of offshore wind projects. Across Japan, Korea and Taiwan, 40GW of offshore wind projects are planned in the next ten years.

Favourable policy to enable projects

Governments have been moving to ensure policy encourages offshore wind development. In late 2017, for example, the Japanese government changed its Ports and Harbour Law to enable offshore wind farm developers to occupy zones within Japanese territorial waters close to existing ports.

This led to the development of the first ever large-scale commercial offshore wind farm close to the Akita and Noshiro Ports. Comprising a total of 34 wind turbines installed on monopile foundations, plus associated onshore substations, the two clusters will have a combined capacity of 145MW.

Overcoming industry challenges

Arup’s structural, geotechnical and maritime design teams in Tokyo, London and Hong Kong collaborated on the Akita-Noshiro projects, which included the first approval by the local statutory checking authority. Until then there had been no existing design guidance or prior approval experience in Japan for offshore wind turbine foundations.

Since then, more legislation in Japan has enabled development further offshore in international waters and we have continued to work with developers in Japan, Korea and Taiwan. Although challenges concerning high seismicity and deep water remain in both Japan and Taiwan these are being overcome through advanced soil/structure interaction modelling and the development of innovative solutions.

Applying global knowledge using local skills

Although the principals of designing offshore wind turbines are universal, conditions in the Asia region require specific, local expertise as well as experience of local regulations. For example, strong technical skills for seismic, wind and wave engineering are particularly relevant for Japan and Taiwan – due to their close proximity to the ring of fire along the pacific plate boundary and direct exposure to the Pacific Ocean.

We’ve sought to build skilled teams within Asia. With over 3,500 staff in the Asia region including over 140 geotechnical engineers in Hong Kong alone as well as growing teams of wind specialists in Japan, Korea and Taiwan we realise the importance of local teams that understand not only the technical aspects but also the local culture and language.

Exporting expertise for better outcomes

As Asia becomes the focus of growth in global offshore wind, it has the opportunity to fast-track its development by exporting long-established expertise from the established European market. Within our own firm, we’ve seen how skills can be transferred from Europe to local teams in Hong Kong and Japan – enabling us to win some of the increasing number of design and owner’s engineer assignments in the region.

For a 187MW offshore wind farm in Japan, our designers drew on the lessons from our numerous projects throughout Japan as well as across Asia, and our experience from over 50 offshore wind farms in Europe.