Japan’s wind energy generation capacity grows fivefold

But the pace of increase in the past fiscal year to March was the lowest during the 10-year period at slightly below 100,000 kilowatts due to the termination the previous year of government subsidies for wind farm construction.

The government expects power generation from wind turbines and other renewable energy sources to keep expanding with the start in July of a so-called feed-in tariff system. Under it, electric utilities will be required in principle to buy, at fixed rates, electricity produced by others from renewable energy sources such as solar or wind power.

A government panel recently proposed a fixed price of 23.1 yen per kilowatt-hour be paid for electricity generated from wind power, a profitable level for the providers of wind power, industry sources say.

The Japan Wind Power Association expects that the government’s promotion of renewable energy use will not lead to a notable increase in construction of new wind power farms until around fiscal 2015 due to the time needed to prepare, such as conducting environmental impact assessments.

The association, formed by companies and municipalities, estimates that Japan is capable of generating 740 million kilowatts of electricity from wind power on land and offshore on a commercial basis.

The association hopes to see Japan’s capacity to produce electricity from wind increase to 50 million kilowatts by 2050 to meet over 10 percent of the country’s power demand.