Europe is still the leader for wind energy with over 57 GW of wind energy at the end of 2007, representing 61% of the global total. In Japan there are the wind farms such as the Nunobiki Plateau on a hill north of Tokyo, which generates enough electricity to power some 35,000 homes a year or the Aoyama plateau Wind Farm (It currently hosts 32 turbines of 700 kW each.). Another one is at Seto Wind Farm (the installation consists of 11 Mitsubishi MWT-1000s with a power output rating of 1000kW)
In Europe it costs about 50 to 100 percent more to build offshore wind farms to those based on land. One option might be to follow the example of Scotland, which installed offshore turbines in deep water in 2006.
Europe remains the leading market for wind energy with over 57 GW of wind energy at the end of 2007, representing 61% of the global total. In 2007, the European wind capacity grew by 8.5 GW, over 17% compared to the previous year. The final figures for Europe will be released by the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) in early February 2008 (see www.ewea.org).
A FLOATING WIND FARM?
Helped by government since1990s, there are about 1,300 land-based wind turbines in Japan run by regional governments and companies such as Eurus Energy Holdings Co, Electric Power Development Co <9513.T> and Japan Wind Development Co <2766.T>.
Summer typhoons, violent lightning in winter, and a country split between two power systems and regional power grids add to the challenges of harnessing wind power.
Yet despite the difficulties, Yoshinori Ueda, a strategic planning manager at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd’s <7011.T> power systems headquarters, said wind power will have to play an increasing part in Japanese power production.
Mitsubishi, Japan’s No.1 wind Mitsubishi’s wind turbines is trying to catch up with European rivals with plans to develop sea-based wind turbines in waters near existing power plants, Ueda said.
Tokyo Electric buys electricity from wind farms. But some analysts say big power companies may soon initiate their own wind farms at offshore locations near major industrial ports, where a grid network with existing power plants is available.
A plan to set up 16 huge turbines on the slope near the top of Mount Neko, 160 km north west of Tokyo, has been stuck in the planning stages since 2004.
It faces a barrage of complaints from critics worried that construction will taint water supplies, cause debris flows like the one which caused a fatal disaster at a downstream village in 1981 and threaten native eagles, butterflies and the Japanese serow, a species of goat-antelope.
“Wind is a gift. It’s free of charge. So people tend to assume it’s an easy business,” said Teruyoshi Kimura, 59, former engineer who owns an inn at the foot of Mount Neko.
Hopefully there’ll be more and more wind farms in the future so the part of renewable energies will grow up.