Friday, 10 March 2017

Japan's wind farm developers face wrong kind of gusts Nikkei Asian Review

The lack of wind power in Japan has always struck me as odd. 

Japan has wind, and quite a lot of it. Also it has some major turbine manufactures, including Hitachi, Japan Steel and Mitsubishi. Sometimes you hear that Japan has the wrong kind of wind; far too variable and much too strong in the typhoon season. But sixty years ago Mitsubishi made propellor planes faster than any hurricane.  

There is a story here in Nikkei Asian Review about Green Power Investment who have been planning a 40 billion yen project for a 200 MegaWatt wind farm in Iwate Prefecture, Tohoku (North eastern Japan).  

Unfortunately they have been told that it will take 10 years for the transmission capacity to be increased so they can connect the wind farm. 

Wind turbine used as garnish for thermal power station
The local power company has not given any detailed explanation, but it may have something to do with a planned coal-fired power station in Akita. Yes, there really are plans for Japan to build a new coal-fired power station. 

In fact, according to Australian ABC news, it's going to build 45 new coal power stations, which the Guardian informs us will lead thousands of early deaths. It's also difficult to see how this will help Japan's commitment to reducing carbon emissions. Which country was Kyoto in? 

Another surprise from the Nikkei article is that power companies only pay 22 yen per kWh for wind-generated electricity, going down by 1 yen per year. They give me over twice that for my solar power. I know that the inflated tariffs for solar-generated electricity are partly subsidies for Japan's substantial solar industry, helping it to keep costs down and stay internationally competitive, but the same would apply to the manufacturers of wind turbines. 

Edit 15th March:
The feed-in tariff for household wind power is 59.4 yen. The tariff of 22 yen quoted in the Nikkei article applies to industrial wind (<20kw compare="" fair="" household="" it="" my="" not="" p="" really="" s="" so="" solar="" tariff.="" to="">