Japan?s wind energy generation capacity grew fivefold in last decade

The nation’s wind power capacity has climbed about fivefold to 2.5 million kw over the past decade, sources say.

But growth in fiscal 2011 shrank to just under 100,000 kw — the slowest pace in the decade — following the termination of subsidies for wind plant construction the previous year, the sources said Saturday.

The government expects electricity produced by wind power and other renewable energy sources to continue expanding after the so-called feed-in tariff system kicks off in July. The system requires utilities in principle to buy, at fixed rates, electricity from other entities that is produced by environmentally safe methods, such as solar or wind power.

A government panel recently proposed fixing the price for electricity generated by wind power at ¥23.1 per kwh — a level deemed profitable enough for non-utilities to stay in the game, industry sources said.

The Japan Wind Power Association expects that government efforts to promote the use of renewable energy won’t spur a notable increase in wind farm construction until around fiscal 2015, given the environmental impact assessments and other time-consuming preparations needed to enter the business.

The Japan Wind Power Association, formed by companies and municipalities, estimates the nation can generate 740 million kw worth of wind power on land and offshore on a commercial basis.

The association hopes to see Japan’s capacity rise to 50 million kw by 2050 so it can cover more than 10 percent of national demand.

Japan’s new long-term post-Fukushima energy plan will not be released until summer. Meanwhile, the two Japanese Wind Energy Associations have called for at least 25 GW (equivalent to 5% of total electricity supply in Japan) of wind power development by 2030.

Wind turbines in Japan

1997: 18 MW
1998: 30 MW (+66.7 %)
1999: 68 MW (+126.7 %)
2000: 142 MW (+108.9 %)
2001: 275 MW (+93.7 %)
2002: 334 MW (+21.5 %)
2003: 506 MW (+51.5 %)
2004: 896 MW (+77.1 %)
2005: 1,040 MW (+16.1 %)
2006: 1,309 MW (+25.9 %)
2007: 1,528 MW (+16.8 %)
2008: 1,880 MW (+23.1 %)
2009: 2,056 MW (+9.4 %)
2010: 2,304 MW (+12.1 %)
2011: 2,501 MW (+8.6 %)