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Source: www.asiaecon.org |

JAPAN BETS ON OFFSHORE WIND AS SOURCE OF RENEWABLE ENERGY


The world's second largest economy and fifth biggest emitter of greenhouse gases is making a renewed effort to boost the green power industry as it scrambles to meet its Kyoto obligations. In an attempt to reduce the national need for oil and to cut back on carbon emissions, Japan is looking to wind power as a solution to obtain renewable and clean energy. However, Japan is not a largely connected country nor does it have a whole lot of room to spare for turbines. Therefore, Japan is starting to emulate Europe and is looking offshore for sites to build wind turbines.


 

The world’s second largest economy and fifth biggest emitter of greenhouse gases is making a renewed effort to boost the green power industry as it scrambles to meet its Kyoto obligations. In an attempt to reduce the national need for oil and to cut back on carbon emissions, Japan is looking to wind power as a solution to obtain renewable and clean energy. However, Japan is not a largely connected country nor does it have a whole lot of room to spare for turbines. Therefore, Japan is starting to emulate Europe and is looking offshore for sites to build wind turbines.

The latest data about Japan’s greenhouse-gas emissions casts a serious doubt over Japan’s commitment concerning the Kyoto Protocol. Japan’s greenhouse gas emissions rose to a record high in 2008, putting it at risk of missing its Kyoto Protocol target of cutting emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases to 6 percent below 1990 levels from 2008 to 2012. So if Japan wants to fulfill its Kyoto Protocol commitments, it will have to seek out innovative ways to meet its obligation. 

Wind power has drawn increased attention as carbon dioxide emissions accelerate global warming. Japan, however, is far behind Europe and the United States in generating wind energy mainly because of geographical factors. To construct wind stations, it is necessary to find places where strong winds blow. But in Japan, such places are often on mountains or on the coastlines of islands and peninsulas where landforms are really complex. These complex land features create unstable winds, making it difficult to stabilize power generation. Furthermore,  Japan doesn’t have much space left on land. 

So, Japan is looking at the advantages of siting offshore wind farms. Wind speeds tend to be higher and the wind is steadier. Offshore wind energy is about double in power to that harnessed on land. Although, the power it generates is unpredictable especially when compared with conventional thermal electricity generation. Nonetheless, sea breezes are considered as more reliable than solar power, and wind turbines require less space and lower investment than nuclear and solar plants. In fact, many hope that the technical challenges will be overcome and that in the future offshore wind farms will be built much further offshore, perhaps even on floating platforms at sea.

It is more expensive to build the turbines at sea than on land. It costs about 50 to 100 percent more to build offshore wind farms than to build those on land. In Japan, it could cost even more as it is surrounded by deeper seas. However, according to Denmark’s findings, the turbulence at sea is less than that on land, which translates to less wear on the turbine and a longer life span for the equipment. Of course, maintenance at sea is more costly, depending on the particular site, but building turbines offshore would also eliminate the issue of turbine noise disrupting neighbors.

Japan is heavily dependent on energy imports, as the country has very little coal, oil and natural gas reserves. Aside from the environmental and economic benefits, an economy based on a larger portion of renewable energy will also help Japan gain a greater degree of energy independence. According to the Japanese environment ministry, Japan aims to expand the “green business” market and create up to 1 million new jobs, to simultaneously fight climate change and boost the economy amid a global downturn. And it seems that part of the solution could lay in offshore wind powder.

Source: www.AsiaEcon.org
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Source: www.asiaecon.org |


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