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Energy

Shimizu orders pricey ship to build offshore wind farms

Wave-resistant platform, with movable legs, will enable uninterrupted work

An artist's rendering depicts Shimizu's specialized ship for installing offshore wind turbines.

TOKYO -- Japanese general contractor Shimizu will buy a specialized vessel for installing offshore wind turbines at a cost of around 50 billion yen ($462 million), the company announced Wednesday.

At 28,000 tons, the self-elevating platform is expected to become one of the largest of its kind. Construction starts as early as next month, with the vessel scheduled to be completed in October 2022. Shimizu seeks to bring in 50 billion yen in construction orders related to offshore wind farms annually.

A self-elevating platform has movable legs that are lowered to the ocean floor to lift the rig above the surface, providing a stable work area that will be uninterrupted by waves. It also is equipped with a crane and other equipment.

Major shipbuilder Japan Marine United will construct the vessel, which will be 142 meters long and 50 meters wide. A single self-elevating platform can handle everything from carrying wind turbine components to the installation site to building the foundation and assembling the turbine.

The vessel will be able to install seven 8-megawatt turbines in 10 days, excluding foundation construction, Shimizu said. Its crane will have the ability to lift a 2,500-ton object to a height of 158 meters.

Japan has been slow to build offshore wind farms compared with Europe due to a lack of legislation covering use of the ocean. But with relevant laws having taken effect in April, commercial offshore wind power generation is expected to take off. Plans call for installing wind turbines with total capacity of 10,000 megawatts, and some estimates peg the value of the market at more than 5 trillion yen.

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