Wind power ready to fill Japan energy gap

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s announcement at the G8 Summit that Japan would move away from nuclear power towards more reliance on renewable sources is a welcome development, but there is a danger that by focusing on the ‘Sunrise Plan’, other important opportunities such as wind turbines will be neglected.

“We were disappointed to hear that Prime Minister Kan did not make any mention of scaling up Japan’s wind farm capacity,” said Steve Sawyer, GWEC’s Secretary General. “Japan cannot afford to miss this opportunity to deploy the rich wind resource at its doorstep.”

According to a recently released report by the Japanese government, Japan has enormous wind energy resources which can help it make substantial efforts towards energy independence. Indeed, the report calculates the (purely technical) potential of Japan’s wind resources amounts to as much as 1,900 GW, including 300 GW onshore and 1,600 GW offshore wind power. At the end of 2010, Japan’s wind farm capacity stood at only 2.3 GW. Even prior to Fukishima, the Japanese wind energy industry associations had called for 50 GW of wind farm development, 25 GW onshore and 25 GW offshore.

Despite recent announcements to deploy renewable energy technologies, Japan currently has very low official renewable energy targets. In addition, in order to integrate renewable sources, upgrades to the highly fragmented Japanese power grid are urgently needed, as is an adequate support scheme for renewables.

By Angelika Pullen, GWEC,