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Japan to increase wind safety checks

JAPAN: A government department has recommended larger wind turbines have safety checks on a more regular basis due to recent failures in typhoon season.

Turbines upwards of 500kW will be subject to regular checks (pic: Eurus Energy Holdings)
Turbines upwards of 500kW will be subject to regular checks (pic: Eurus Energy Holdings)

On 22 March, a Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) working group decided that wind turbines with a capacity in excess of 500kW capacity are to undergo compulsory safety testing every three years.

The move can be viewed as highly inclusive, given that 92% of Japan's turbines fall into that category, according to a subsequent report from a working group on new energy generation facility accident responses and structural enhancements.

Procedural modifications to allow for the new testing requirements will be undertaken over 12 months beginning April 2016, while full-scale testing is set to commence in April 2017.

The three-year period can be extended or shortened, depending on the safety capability and stance of the operator, while actual testing is likely to be outsourced to private-sector organisations, the report said.

Following malfunctions to wind turbines during recent severe typhoon seasons, such testing has become unavoidable, said Yoshinori Ueda of the Japan Wind Power Association.

However, while some of the new provisions will also be applied to solar power, the latter still maintains an advantage over wind power based on exemptions from environmental testing requirements.

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