Wind farm certification
Japan should implement a drastic reform on the offshore wind farm certification process. The current setup has been inducing lengthy and unpredictable process which serves as a bottleneck for earlier financial closure and subsequent COD. Below are several suggestions for improvement.
- Duration for certification: The certification process should be completed in 1 - 1.5 years which is typical in Europe. It currently takes 3 - 4 years in Japan.
- Transparency in design codes: The design codes and guidelines should be upgraded to provide more clarity on the acceptable design processes (e.g., setting up design conditions, the design methodologies and techniques, allowable criteria). This minimizes ambiguities and provides more transparency and predictability in certification process. This also reduces the time currently consumed in certification process for endorsing any new process/methodology to fill in such ambiguities. Additionally, ambiguities in design codes should be proactively clarified by the government with assistance of subject matter experts (not limited to academia) and should not be implemented in certification process of any commercial project as this would definitely increase the burden of developers and stretch out the duration of certification process.
- Step-by-step approval process: The submissions (e.g., Design Basis-A, B and C) should be reviewed, commented and/or approved within a pre-determined duration (e.g., 2 weeks). Currently, the submissions are approved only at the end of the certification process. This setup hinders efficient certification process as this allows, for instance, Design Basis-A to be reviewed and commented many months after its submission. This practice would extend the duration of certification process because it would require re-dos of relevant design works as most of early submissions are inputs for subsequent design processes.
- Document-based review process: The certification process should be document-based approach. Namely, developers furnish documents which contain all information necessary to justify the proposed design and certification body returns the documents with its comments (e.g., Approved, Approved with comment or Not approved). This provides more transparency and efficiency than the current setup. The current practice is meeting-based approach and most of the communication is made verbally. There is also constrain in time and opportunity as such meeting is held only once in every one or two months and the duration is only 2 hours. It is quite a challenge for developers to explain their design details and receive comments.
- Language: English language should be allowed in all communications. This will open opportunity for non-Japanese-speaking experts which have extensive knowledge and experience in offshore wind to contribute in certification processes and will enhance the quality and efficiency of the certification.