Southern Awaji Island is technically in Hyogo Prefecture. however its location — obtainable of island simply across the sea — bright sunshine, and powerful gusting winds provides it the texture of a climatic zone island.
The breezes ar particularly necessary, as a result of town of Minamiawaji, the most population center, is home to a wind park that sits on a mountainous space between 118 and 225 meters on top of water level. Fifteen turbines of two,500 kW every offer thirty seven,500 kw. They generate enough power for twelve,000 households — common fraction of Minamiawaji’s total.
“Each rotary engine is 129 meters high, with a diameter of eighty eight meters, the biggest in Japan,” aforementioned Yoshiaki Shibata of CEF Minamiawaji wind park house., the Nemuro-based company responsible of the project.
Minamiawaji wind park, however, is one in every of solely some of alternative energy comes within the Kansai region, wherever geographics conditions mean winds, particularly off urban center and Kobe, ar but ideal.
Japan lags behind several different countries within the use of alternative energy for a spread of reasons, together with a scarcity of fine locations with robust winds, strict environmental restrictions and also the tendency of utilities to advocate fossil fuels and nuclear energy.
But with exaggerated attention by the central government amid the crisis at the Fukushima No. one nuclear energy plant, several cities across the country have started moving to speculate in native comes to create wind turbines.
“To take the lead in offshore alternative energy, we wish domestic analysis and development, and for makers to spice up their capabilities,” Masanori Sato, a politician at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and trade, told reporters.
In period, METI declared plans to pay up to ¥20 billion putting in six offshore floating wind turbines in Fukushima Prefecture over consequent 5 years. additionally, METI hopes to feature a further one million kW from alternative energy within the Tohoku region by 2020.
This new enthusiasm for alternative energy by the central government is because of variety of reasons, not the smallest amount of that is its comparatively low value in comparison with different renewable energy sources. the very fact that several Japanese companies like Hitachi and Mitsubishi serious Industries ar already aggressive players within the international market is another contributive issue.
Currently, alternative energy prices concerning ¥11 per kwh on the average, and 1,807 windmills were generating concerning two.44 million kW as of March, according the Japan alternative energy Association.
But this figure is kind of low in comparison with China and also the us, each of that generate over forty million kW.
Shibata and different alternative energy specialists purpose to variety of issues that have hindered Japan from victimization a lot of alternative energy.
Many of the simplest locations ar set inside national parks, that have tight rules governing development. however even areas close to national parks or sanctuaries will be problematic.
Studies by the surroundings Ministry and METI, yet because the nongovernmental Japan alternative energy Association, show aras close to Japanese capital and city are way less applicable for wind farms than Hokkaido, Kagoshima Prefecture, and particularly Tohoku.
“Some areas outside of the Kushiro Wetlands supply smart potential. But migratory birds that nest within the wetlands may hop over the realm, and that means addressing environmental concerns that, even if a wind turbine is not located within the designated wetlands area, it might still affect migratory wildlife that lives there,” Shibata said.
While wind turbine operators face environmental regulations, they have not been legally obliged to carry out formal environmental assessments prior to building. However, due to long-standing complaints from neighborhoods near wind farms about the noise, as well as concerns about bird strikes, the Environment Ministry will by the end of this year require wind stations that generate more than 10,000 kw to conduct such assessments.
Another obstacle has been that many potential sites are coastal, far away from towns or housing settlements — which means higher distribution costs. Locating wind farms along coasts reduces transmission efficiency and adds to the overall cost of delivering their electricity where needed.
Tohoku, Hokkaido, Kyushu, and, according to Shibata, the Noto Peninsula area down to Fukui Prefecture, are all good areas to build wind turbines. But electricity demand is greatest in the large population centers of eastern, central and western Honshu. Thus, the most favored sites are in remote areas where current electricity grid capacity is still comparatively small and where connecting to faraway customers on current grids poses supply challenges and high costs.
Proponents of expanded renewable energy have long put much of the blame on METI for pushing fossil fuels and nuclear power at the expense of renewables. But in the case of wind, it appears the loudest opposition may come from the utilities, which have long had doubts about the stability and high costs of wind power.
In a 2009 report, the Belgium-based Global Wind Energy Council, which represents more than 1,500 companies, institutions and organizations in more than 70 countries, put much of the blame for the problem on Japan’s utilities.
“Limited grid access and the monopolistic hold over the power grids by regional electricity companies, WHO use variability problems as associate excuse for not finance in additional capability, have additionally hampered the event of alternative energy,” the report says.
Takeshi Ishihara, associate engineering academician at Japanese capital University and a member of the Japan Wind Energy Association, a gaggle of educational specialists concerned in alternative energy, said METI, at least, has pushed for any offshore alternative energy development for a minimum of 5 years.
“METI has been enthusiastic about the analysis and development of offshore wind farms since 2006. With the passage of the new renewable energy law last month, and their plans for a lot of alternative energy off Fukushima and Tohoku by 2020, they’ve clearly created development of recent energy industries a serious a part of their overall industrial policy,” Ishihara aforementioned.
But he known 2 issues that require to be overcome before alternative energy in Japan becomes a dominant energy supply.
“First, the central government must set new alternative energy targets for 2020. At present, the goal is to introduce twenty eight million kW of solar energy, however solely five million kW of alternative energy by 2020. At the terribly least, the target for alternative energy ought to be at constant level as that for star,” he said.
“The second downside must do with restructuring the electricity generation system,” he said. “This includes prioritizing alternative energy generation and alternative energy affiliation system management and systemizing management and forecasts of alternative energy output.” In different words, reducing the chance of lower potency because of variable wind conditions.
Under the August law, can wind farms thrive? Ishihara believes therefore, however the question of what the feed-in tariff for alternative energy are going to be, and over what amount it'll be, has nevertheless to be determined, whereas political opposition from the utilities and also the public perception of alternative energy as being unstable also will ought to be overcome.
In the meanwhile, wind proponents like Ishihara, and Tetsuo Saito of the Japan alternative energy Association, yet because the central government, ar accenting the present importance and future potential of alternative energy technology to the economy.
“Wind power is already a ¥6 trillion-a-year business worldwide, and has been growing by thirty p.c or a lot of annually since 2005,” Saito wrote in a very Gregorian calendar month report on however Japan may generate fifty million kW of alternative energy by 2050, or ten p.c of its total energy demand.
“For major Japanese companies it’s a ¥170 billion business annually, and if you embody smaller elements suppliers, the full rises to ¥500 billion.
“In addition, there ar several areas of turbine elements producing that overlap with the technology and skills of machine elements makers,” he added. “So investment in alternative energy will benefit of Japan’s ancient skills to create things, and encourage economic and industrial growth, analysis and development, and new jobs.”