Speech at the event 'Energy Decisions, with focus on Renewables and Offshore Wind' in Tokio, Japan

Speech by Minister of Economic Affairs Henk Kamp at the event 'Energy Decisions, with focus on Renewables and Offshore Wind' in Tokio, Japan, 30 October 2014

Your Majesties, Your Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,

It was water that brought Japan and the Netherlands together in sixteen hundred, and it is water that brings us together today. Both our countries have a special relationship with water. We share the paradox of having to battle against it while at the same time wanting to put it to better use.

We are both ambitious in terms of using the sea as a location for generating wind energy. Offshore wind power has considerable potential, but also presents many obstacles in the area of costs, public support and technological innovation. I hope today we can discover how Japan and the Netherlands can together seize the opportunities and face the challenges of wind power.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Clean, safe, available and affordable: the main principles of Japanese and Dutch energy policy are very similar. Allow me to outline the Dutch approach.

In the Netherlands, we strive for an energy mix from renewable and traditional sources. In the long term we aim to switch to a sustainable, low carbon energy supply. To help achieve this, last year the government entered into an Energy Agreement for Sustainable Growth with employers, trade unions, environmental organisations and other parties. Over forty organisations committed themselves to agreements that form the basis for a future-proof energy and climate policy. The most important objectives are increasing the share of energy generated from renewable sources from the current level of 4.4% to 14% by 2020, with a further increase to 16% by 2023.

Wind power clearly plays an important role in achieving these sustainability targets. We established objectives for offshore wind power in the agreement: in 2023 we aim to have wind farms with a joint capacity of 4450 megawatts – enough to supply five million households.

This is about four times the capacity of the wind farms in operation plus those now under construction. From 2015 I will announce five calls to tender, each for the generation of 700 megawatts.

Under the agreements made between the government and the industry, we have assumed that the costs of offshore wind power will fall by 40% per Megawatt hour over the next decade. That is necessary to make offshore wind power affordable and more competitive with traditional sources of energy. Of course the quality of the wind farms must not be compromised as a result.

The new policy for offshore wind power will be effective from 2015. The government has taken two measures to significantly lower costs: standardising the offshore grids and taking the lead in spatial planning for wind farms.

It is now up to the industry to further reduce costs by increasing productivity and innovation. I want businesses to face the challenge of using the latest technologies, and to set up wind farms rapidly and efficiently. And that is exactly where opportunities for Japanese-Dutch cooperation lie.

Our businesses can work together to deliver highly competitive offshore projects and products.

The Netherlands is an attractive partner. We can offer the highest quality knowledge and products thanks to:

  • Our port facilities, which allow us to combine the import of parts with the construction and shipping of wind turbines all in one location.
  • Our experience in design and testing, grid connection and wind farm maintenance.
  • The fact that we are a supplier of ships and marine equipment for the transportation of workers and materials needed for the construction and maintenance of offshore wind farms.

It is therefore no coincidence that the Netherlands supplies knowledge and products to almost all the offshore wind farms in Europe. We would of course also like to share this expertise with Japan. Several companies represented in the delegation, including ECN, Vryhof and Gusto, already do business here, and others are keen to invest.

Equally, the Dutch market is an attractive prospect for Japanese investors. Over the coming years many wind farms will be built off the Dutch coast, and I invite Japanese companies to submit tenders for these projects. The Netherlands already has positive experiences with Japanese partners such as the Mitsubishi Corporation and the Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, the leading bank in the project financing of the Gemini wind farm, which will be built next year.

Dutch and Japanese companies can of course also make joint investments in third countries. This is already the case in Germany, where TenneT and Mitsubishi Corporation have together invested in offshore grid connections.

Together, Japan and the Netherlands can develop the wind farms of the future. Take for instance floating wind farms, which are ideal for Japan due to the depth of the surrounding waters. Research and development in this field can result in substantial progress in this respect.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Ambition and struggle often go hand in hand. For over four hundred years Japan and the Netherlands have made use of the opportunities offered by water without losing sight of the challenges. This is an approach which will also allow us to tackle one of the greatest challenges of our time – a sustainable supply of energy. I trust we can work together on a future-oriented energy policy, which is clean and safe, available and affordable.

I wish you all a very productive day.