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A windy alternative

Posted September 2, 2015

Following a major nuclear disaster in Japan, its nuclear power plants have been shut down and an alternative energy supply is needed. A major investment is being made into an environmentally-friendly option that relies on the power of offshore and the technology to harvest energy from it.

The Fukushima nuclear disaster in March 2011, causing a meltdown of three of the plant’s nuclear reactors, sent a shock wave throughout Japan. In addition to the disastrous environmental impact, it also severely hurt public confidence in nuclear power plants. The result was a decision by the Japanese government to shut down all the country’s more than 50 nuclear plants.

Thus the need for alternative sources of energy has increased sharply. One of the focus areas is wind power, and since Japan is a crowded and mountainous country, the search for sites has moved offshore, with floating turbines the main option in the deep waters off the rugged coastline.

Fukushima Forward is a trial project for offshore wind power, conducted by the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. The project includes three different types of windmills and the world’s first offshore floating substation. The primary phase, completed in September 2013, saw installation of the substation and one two megawatt floating turbine. The second phase, which includes installation of two seven megawatt turbines, is ongoing and is expected to be finalized by the end of 2015.

Following a successful delivery during phase one, Trelleborg has been selected to provide its distributed buoyancy modules (DBM), bend stiffeners with dynamic bend stiffeners connectors (DBSC), UraductTM cable protection and bending restrictors to the second phase of the project. The products are designed to secure, guide and protect the subsea electrical power cables from excessive movement and bending, which could cause fatigue damage.

“Securing the contract for phase one was a real accomplishment for Trelleborg,” says John Deasey, Renewables Sales Manager within Trelleborg Offshore & Construction. “We knew the gravitas of the project and the tight deadlines it was under. However, with the input of our specialist teams we made sure that we delivered all products exactly to schedule and in accordance with the client’s strict deadline.”

According to Furukawa Electric, the company in charge of the project, Trelleborg was originally appointed as supplier because of its reputation for delivering high-quality solutions and technical know-how, even under challenging deadlines. As a result of the prompt delivery during phase one, there was no hesitation to enlist Trelleborg again for the second phase of the project.

The opportunities for Trelleborg’s continued involvement in the project are huge. “The prospect of a 120-turbine project would provide an opportunity for the largest-ever supply of bend stiffeners, connectors and other products,” Deasey says. “The benefits for Trelleborg would also be the knowledge gained in this new business sector and the possibility of supplying emerging markets with the same technology.”

The Fukushima Forward project

Fukushima Forward is a floating offshore wind farm demonstration project funded by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry in Japan. The first phase of the project consists of one two megawatt floating wind turbine and the world’s first 25 Mega Volt Ampere (MVA) floating substation connected to land by undersea cables. In the second phase, two 7 MW wind turbines will be installed by the end of 2015. The aim of the project is to establish the business model of the floating wind farm and contribute to future commercial projects.


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