Hitachi Plans to Add Production Line for Offshore Wind Parts

(Bloomberg) — 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-megawatt wind-power systems by the end of
March 2016, Hisahiro Sakai, a spokesman 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-megawatt 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 megawatts 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-megawatt downwind turbines began
producing power at a station in Kamisu City, Ibaraki prefecture,
east of Tokyo on Tuesday.

Hitachi’s 5-megawatt 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. 

To contact the reporter on this story:
Chisaki Watanabe in Tokyo at
cwatanabe5@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Reed Landberg at
landberg@bloomberg.net
Iain Wilson, Abhay Singh

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