APAC: Taiwan offshore wind projects appeal to Itochu

26 March 2018 - 12:00 am UTC

Japanese trading house ITOCHU Corporation is looking for opportunities to invest in Taiwan’s nascent offshore wind sector, a source familiar with the company told this news service. 

The Osaka-based conglomerate is interested in acquiring equity stakes in Taiwan’s offshore wind farms after the government’s official project selection and some other early stage preparations are expected to be completed later this year.

The company is yet to express interest in any specific projects as it awaits more clarity following government auctions scheduled for April and June. 

The interest is partly driven by Japan’s recent move to promote its own offshore wind sector as leading Japanese companies plan to gain relevant project management experience from overseas, said the source.

“Itochu is very keen on investments in renewables, but it prefers to wait a while before taking any actions in view of the upcoming regulatory approvals and grid connection issues,” the source added. 

Itochu is among the first Japanese trade conglomerates to have ventured into wind power. It joined with China’s state-owned conglomerate Citic Group in 2016 to acquire a 23% equity stake in Germany’s 288MW Butendiek offshore wind power plant from the Denmark Pension Funds. Earlier that year, Itochu agreed to invest Apex Clean Energy in the Cotton Plains Wind/Solar Hybrid power project in the US, which has a capacity of 217MW. 

Among Itochu’s most recent investments on the island is its NTD 19.4bn (USD 670m) stake purchase of a 37% stake in Taipei Financial Center Corporation, which owns Taiwan’s landmark Taipei 101 tower.  

An Itochu spokesperson in Taiwan declined to comment on the trading house’s investment plans. 

Meanwhile, German energy giant RWE Innogy SE has also singled Taiwan out as a “high potential emerging market”, a spokesperson told this news service.

Operating wind farms off the UK, German and Belgian coasts, the German energy group has already sent representatives to liaise with developers in Taiwan for investment opportunities, a second source said.

The most recent a few months has seen a series of tie-ups between foreign investors and local corporations in offshore wind project development. Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP) partnered with Asia Cement Corporation (ACC) last week to develop a 450MW offshore wind farm in Taiwan. 

So far nine developers offering 10.5GW of combined offshore wind capacity are competing for the Bureau of Energy’s 5.5GW of offshore wind project permits. Some 3.5GW is to be granted in an official selection in April with a feed-in-tariff while the rest 2GW is expected to be awarded at a tender in late June.