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Participation in European offshore wind power projects

Germany / Belgium / U.K.

Rapid development of offshore wind power generation in Europe

The European Union("EU”) aims to increase its use of renewable energy to 20% of the EU’s total energy consumption by 2020. In connection with this, offshore wind power generation is growing rapidly in Europe. This technology involves large turbines installed in the sea that harness the power of the wind to produce electricity. Wind farms are currently being constructed in earnest, mainly in the North Sea, which borders Norway, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, France and the United Kingdom(“UK”).

The greatest advantage of offshore wind power generation is the absence of physical obstacles to wind, such as mountains and buildings. This increases efficiency in energy conversion and facilitates output projection. The vast open spaces of the sea are also convenient for the transportation of turbine blades, a headache for onshore wind power projects situated on restrictive land sites. The North Sea is particularly suited to wind farms since shallow waters stretch out for over 40 kilometers off the coast.

An offshore wind farm is often likened to a flock of egrets.

Three Belgian projects

Sumitomo Corporation entered the offshore wind power business in 2014. Under a strategic partnership with Parkwind, a Belgian offshore wind company, we participated in Belwind, Northwind and Nobelwind wind farm projects, then in operation, under construction or in development in the North Sea.

A service vessel in the North Sea at sunrise—construction goes on day and night.

These wind farms comprise 55, 72 and 50 wind turbines, respectively, with each rotor measuring over 100 meters in diameter. To construct and operate such huge wind farms, stable funding, operational expertise and know-how, and high-level project management skills are indispensable. Having already accumulated considerable related experience through building and running conventional power plants and participating in onshore wind power projects in North America, China and South Africa, Sumitomo Corporation has been able to bring about successful outcomes in the Belgian projects.

A towering offshore substation

Sumitomo active in the UK and working toward a self-supporting business model without any subsidies

Sumitomo’s European bases for its offshore wind power business are Dusseldorf in Germany (European hub), Leuven in Belgium and London in the UK. We have been exploring new business possibilities, working locally as an IPP firmly anchored in each locale and utilizing our global network as an integrated trading and business investment company to gather information. In fact it was due to our steady local efforts, in addition to our highly acclaimed role in the Belgian projects, that we were able to successively take part in two British offshore wind farm projects, Galloper in 2016 and Race Bank in 2017. Both British wind farms, far greater in scale than the Belgian facilities, are scheduled for completion in 2018. Sumitomo’s experience in the Belgian projects will no doubt also be put to good use in the operation of the British wind farms.

The European offshore wind power market has been growing year by year. To expand our business, we intend to participate in projects of various other countries, such as Germany and the Netherlands. Today, the renewable energy business, which thus far has largely been supported by government subsidies, is quickly transitioning to a self-supporting model. Sumitomo Corporation is also moving in this direction, pursuing greater stability in power generation and higher cost competitiveness, so as to ensure continuity of power supply in Europe.

The wind may agitate the sea, but it also makes turbine blades spin.

Potential in Asia

Outside Europe, Taiwan is attracting global attention for its lofty potential in offshore wind power generation, not only because of its sea-locked topography but also thanks to the Taiwanese government’s commitment to renewable energy. Japan, a similarly sea-locked country, can also be a market for offshore wind power in the future. Although there are obstacles to be overcome, such as frequent typhoons and less extensive shallows than in the North Sea, Sumitomo Corporation believes that it will be able to apply the expertise acquired through the European projects to initiatives in Japan and the rest of Asia in the near future.

In April 2018, Sumitomo Corporation integrated its conventional power and renewable energy business segments and established a global system to enable it to work on power generation projects in a seamless fashion. The company’s objective in this area is to establish a robust energy business that contributes to society and preserves the global environment for future generations.

To protect our planet while guaranteeing the day-to-day comfort and convenience that electricity provides, Sumitomo Corporation continues to vigorously promote its renewable energy business.

A wind farm at sunset shows various expressions.

May 2018

Keyword

  • Infrastructure Business
  • Europe, Middle East, Africa and CIS
  • Electric Power Energy
  • Environment

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