Japanese Wind Sector Growing Fast

Partly because fears about nuclear power persist and thanks to government support, the sector will grow strongly this year, Frost & Sullivan predicts.

Persistent fears about the wisdom of using nuclear power are part of the reason Japan's wind energy sector will recover strongly this year after a 2012 slump, according to a newly released Frost & Sullivan forecast, which cites a recent announcement by Japan that it will invest in offshore wind farms in Fukushima.

"The shutdown of Japan's nuclear reactors in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami has changed the perspectives towards renewable energy technologies. The compelling need for energy self sufficiency and energy security has driven Japan to tap its offshore wind potential despite high costs and challenges in connecting to the power grid. Furthermore, Japan's investments in developing its onshore wind power projects have been dismal since 2008 due to complicated construction guidelines and grid connection issues," said Suchitra Sriram, program manager for Energy and Environment at Frost & Sullivan.

"A prime example is the Fukushima offshore wind power project with a mammoth planned capacity of 1 GW. The project has proved how wind power can be harnessed effectively even to replace nuclear power plants that are currently mired in safety concerns," she added. "Besides, it highlights the role played by such renewable energy technologies in locations that are highly susceptible to develop nuclear power plants. This project, once commissioned, has the potential to push Japan as one of the leading wind power markets in the Asia Pacific region."

F&S indicated government support is crucial because the Fukushima wind project poses a very high construction cost. A feed-in-tariff system introduced in July 2012 requires utilities to buy electricity produced from offshore wind farms at twice the rate of onshore wind farms, a rate that among the world's highest, according to the firm.

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