Japan’s wind power capacity up 11.7% before new subsidy

Japan wind energy capacity up 11.7 pct in 2011. Japan’s wind power capacity rose 11.7 percent in the year to March 2011, the slowest pace at least in 10 years.

Japan’s wind power capacity rose 11.7 percent in the year to March 2011, the slowest pace at least in 10 years, as it was set to launch a new subsidy system to lure investors to the sector.

Japan is overhauling its energy policy after the Fukushima crisis shattered public confidence in the safety of nuclear power, on which it had previously planned to rely on for over 50 percent of electricity demand by 2030.

To accelerate the growth of renewable energy sources, parliament last year approved bills, effective in July 2012, requiring utilities to buy all electricity output from solar power, wind farm and other renewable power plants at preset rates in a so-called feed-in tariff scheme.

Wind turbines capacity totalled 2,442 megawatts as of March last year, according to data by a government-backed agency, New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO). In 2009/2010, wind farm capacity increased by 16.1 percent to 2,186 MW.

The next slowest pace in the past decade was marked in 2007/2008 of 12.3 percent, when tighter building regulations following a scandal in 2005 over falsified engineering data for apartment blocks delayed the construction of wind farms.

Japan is targeting an increase in renewable energy generation as most of the country’s atomic reactors are shut for checks following the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl last March. Before the accident, nuclear power provided about 30 percent of Japan’s electricity supply.

The country’s cumulative wind power capacity may reach 2,600 megawatts by March 2014 from the current 2,522 megawatts, the association said, urging the government to make an early decision on the tariffs and wind power generation targets.

Despite eliminating subsidies Japan has considered since the quake and tsunami that struck the country last March the need to switch from nuclear power sources toward renewable sources, like wind energy, solar power or geothermal energy.