Portugal & Japan reignite historic maritime tie

 In Blue economy, Energy, News

Portugal and Japan are rekindling an historic maritime connection in efforts to supercharge the future energy transition and stimulate blue economy growth.
As the first Europeans to reach Japan, the Portuguese have maintained a strong footprint in the Far East through cultural, economic and scientific exchange. However, as the climate crisis intensifies and the race to net-zero gathers pace the two nations aim to ramp up trade and investment relations, reigniting a long-standing relationship with a focus on marine renewables and ocean-related activity.
A special online conference delivered by Portugal’s leading marine energy R&D centre, WavEC Offshore Renewables, will provide a platform for leading Japanese energy firms, institutions and government officials to uncover key opportunities in the region.
‘Portugal and Japan: Major Developments in Offshore Renewable Energies’ runs from 08.30 to 13.00 (Western European Time) on November 30, staged in collaboration with the Embassy of Japan in Portugal. To register for the event click here.
Participants include Japan’s largest investor in Portugal, Marubeni Offshore Wind Development Corporation, Nagasaki Marine Industry Cluster Promotion Association, Kyuden Mirai Energy, Iwatani Corporation, Future Energy Consultant and the University of Tokyo’s Department of Ocean Technology. European counterparts include EDP NEW Centre for New Energy Technologies, Ocean Winds, Principle Power, ASM Industries, CorPower Ocean,Eco Wave Power, TechnipFMC and  Hidromod.
WavEC President António Sarmento (pictured) said: “This event presents a unique opportunity to explore Euro-Asian collaboration opportunities in business and research across marine renewable energies and other blue economy sectors. As the world has witnessed from the COP26 gathering, an enormous challenge lies ahead to limit global warming and protect our planet. To a large extent this will rely on successful navigation of the future energy transition, departing from fossil fuel electricity generation – which accounts for around 40pc of global CO2 emissions alone. While the task is daunting, there is hope ahead in the form of a more comprehensive green energy mix, combining established renewable energy sources with new and emerging technologies. It is possible that previously untapped ocean marine energy production could grow 20-fold this decade reaching 10GW of installed capacity, with floating offshore wind, tidal and wave plants providing mainstream power generation, spurring forward a global blue economy. As proud maritime nations with a passion for innovation, we see great potential for synergy between Portugal and Japan as part of this global movement.”
Japan’s Ambassador to Portugal Shigeru Ushio (pictured) said: “Despite being located at the extreme points of the Euro-Asia continent, our two nations remain good partners sharing fundamental values such as liberty, democracy, human rights and rule of law. Portugal benefits from an excellent, stable business environment with a well-trained and intellectual workforce, delivering services with highly competitive prices compared to central and north European countries. These factors have attracted significant investments from Japan. Due to our unique and long-standing relationship there is strong potential for further collaboration and business growth with a specific focus on marine energy and the blue economy at large.”
President & CEO of Marubeni Offshore Wind Development Corporation Hisafumi Manabe said: “The cultural, economic and scientific exchange between Japan and Portugal, based on our historic friendship, is alive and well today. Marubeni’s major investment in Portugal is a good example if this, being a shareholder of several companies including TrustEnergy (electricity producer), GGND (gas network concessionaire) and AGS (water sector). From a geographical standpoint our nations share many similarities in relation to the sea, not only because of vast coastal areas but also our deep waters, which demand innovative ocean energy solutions such as floating platforms. Japan has additional climatic challenges with earthquakes and typhoons. New technology is rapidly under development, and its success will likely rely on high-level international collaboration in order to drive down costs and achieve market pull.”
Tokyo University Professor in the Department of Ocean Technology Ken Takagi Believes that Portugal and Japan share a “very unique relationship” and while the oil and gas sector has traditionally driven marine technology collaboration, “we are now witnessing a seismic shift towards renewable energy. Neither of our nations have major oil or gas fields nearshore, which only serves to emphasise the major requirement for renewable energies growth to meet demand, and drive energy resilience and independence.”
Ocean Winds Iberia Country Manager José Pinheiro said: “Our vision is to drive innovation to support a carbon-neutral world. We are aiming to make offshore wind one of the main sources of renewable energy, underpinning the energy transition by expanding with large scale commercial projects and offshore floating wind.”
Kyuden Mirai Energy’s Koto Miyagawa said: “Japan has limited energy resources and traditionally relied on imports from other countries for most fossil fuel. However, like Portugal we share a long coastline, offering major potential to develop marine renewable energy. Kyuden Mirai Energy is currently performing a tidal power demonstration project in the Nagasaki region, one of the largest trading ports in Japan which sparked relations with Portugal around 450 years ago. Building on our historic connection, we would like to mutually cooperate in this new field to exchange ideas, trade human resources and technologies.”
WavEC is a world-renowned ‘centre of excellence’ focusing on the development of marine renewable energy and offshore aquaculture through R&D, knowledge transfer and innovation. The non-profit organisation heavily supports the EU’s Horizon 2020 Programme and has delivered more than 65 R&D projects – seeing circa €12 million of funding invested in the marine renewables sector. It has worked in collaboration with more than 250 partners in 25 countries.