The move was announced by the Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry (METI) and is set against the backdrop of the limited potential for onshore wind.
In a statement METI said it viewed offshore wind as "essential technology for the expanded introduction of sustainable energy," the release noted.
Feed-in tariffs for onshore wind were set at Y 23.1/kW for 20 years in July 2012. But multiple sources contacted by Windpower Offshore have said offshore wind power would not be workable without a premium of at least 50% higher than that figure.
METI has yet to make an official announcement, but it is speculated that offshore will be priced at Y 30 to Y 40 per/kW. It will initially focus on bottom-fixed installations, based on the availability of data at home and abroad.
However, with an Environment Ministry floating offshore wind demonstration project generating power in the Goto Islands from the end of October, and a 2MW floating turbine set to come on line 20km off the coast of Fukushima in early October, the spotlight is clearly on floating installations.
Floating offshore is more cost intensive than bottom-fixed installations, and in the future METI may be forced to reconsider pricing, observers say.
Japan has been pushing the development of floating technology with mixed results. A 2MW Hitachi turbine is currently generating power in deep water off the coast, while conversely the part of Skwid vertical axis turbine sank in rough seas.