World’s largest offshore wind farm planned for Japanese waters

» By | Published 23 Jan 2013

Still reeling from the earthquake and tsunami that destroyed the Fukushima nuclear plant in 2011, Japan has announced its intention to build what could become the world’s largest offshore wind farm.

New Scientist reported last week that the world’s third largest economy plans to build by 2020 an offshore wind farm with 143 turbines 16 kilometres from the destroyed Daiichi nuclear reactor.

The new wind farm will generate 1 gigawatt of power once completed, the magazine said, adding it is part of a Japanese plan to increase renewable energy resources following the post-tsunami shutdown of the nation’s 54 nuclear reactors. Currently, two of those reactors have come back online.

“The project is part of the Fukushima region’s plan to become completely energy self-sufficient by 2040, using renewable sources alone,” the article said.

The world’s largest operating offshore wind farm currently is  the London Array in the Thames Estuary which, when it becomes operational this spring, its 175 turbines will generate 630 MW of power. If Phase Two of the London Array goes ahead, its 65 turbines will generate 240 additional MW, bringing the total for both phases to 870 MW.

Last June, Japan decided to implement a Feed-in Tariff for wind power and other renewables.

Reuters reported at the time that the new incentives for renewable energies could unleash billions of Euros in revenue from renewable generation and related equipment while helping the nation move away from its reliance on nuclear power.

The news agency said the scheme, which went into effect 1 July, requires Japanese utilities to buy electricity from renewable sources such as wind, solar, and geothermal at pre-set premiums for up to 20 years.

“The push for renewables is aimed at cutting reliance on not only nuclear, but pricey oil and liquefied natural gas for energy needs,” Reuters said, adding government support has spurred explosive growth in renewable energy in countries such as Germany, which has nearly tripled its output in less than a decade.

Prior to the Fukushima disaster, about 60% of Japan’s energy portfolio was provided by fossil fuels while approximately 30% came from nuclear.

The Global Wind Energy Council has reported that 2,501 MW of wind capacity had been installed in Japan by the end of 2011.