Japan makes a big move into offshore wind; closes $324M deal with DONG Energy

Gunfleet Sands Ghene Snowdon offshore wind power

Image by Ghene Snowdon

TOKYO (Dow Jones)–Looking to expand its presence in the renewable energy field, Marubeni Corp. (8002.TO) said Friday it has reached a basic accord to buy a 49.9% interest in the offshore U.K. wind power project Gunfleet Sands.

The deal, worth about GBP200 million, or $324 million, makes Marubeni the first Japanese company to take a stake in an offshore wind farm under commercial operation.

The Japanese trading house said the wind farm, capable of generating 172 megawatts, started operating in the spring of 2010 and is supplying electricity to 125,000 household in the U.K.

Marubeni has agreed to buy the stake from Danish Energy company and market leader Dong Energy A/S, which currently holds the entire stake in the project.

Dong Energy has the largest share in the global offshore wind farm market at 28%.

Marubeni said the partnership with the Danish firm will enable it to obtain know-how in wind farm development and operations.

The move is the latest by Marubeni to step up efforts to invest in the renewable energy business field.

Last year, Marubeni and Google Inc. (GOOG) unveiled plans to develop an undersea power cable project off the U.S. Atlantic coast. The Atlantic Wind Connection project will connect wind turbines off the U.S. coast from New Jersey to Virginia.

-By Hiroyuki Kachi, Dow Jones Newswires