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Japan

Japan

STILL JUST STARTING OUT

In Japan energy policy is to be directed more towards renewables, particularly wind. To improve the current awareness of wind technology and commercial wind turbines the Japanese Wind Energy Association will hold an exhibition as part of its 1995 conference.

If the European Wind Energy Conference in Greece last year felt like a conference of yesteryear (Windpower Monthly, November 1994), it had nothing on the atmosphere of Japan's annual wind event, JWEC '94, in late November. A considerably smaller gathering than the European conference, JWEC '94 was held over two days in Kawasaki, just west of Tokyo. Some 140 people attended, despite the hall's maximum capacity of just 100. In attendance were wind energy specialists from all over Japan including government officials, academics and others in business. JWEC's main emphasis was on educational and marketing activities for wind energy as opposed to academic or technical lectures. This policy has been unchanged in recent years and is unlikely to move forward until public and commercial operations of wind turbine generators become more popular.

However, the technical official from the Japanese government in charge of development of renewable energy who explained the government's stance on the issue said it was his personal view that the time has come for Japan to alter its policy of developing wind technologies to that of encouraging widespread wind power use.

Other talks were given about worldwide standardisation of wind turbines and technical and commercial directions of the leading countries in the filed.

Most of the few wind turbine owners in Japan are power utilities and the majority of them chose the Mitsubishi 275 kW model and occasionally the MHI 300 kW. Representatives from four of the ten power utilities in Japan and an official from Tachikawa town, which owns three 100 kW Kenetech turbines (Windpower Monthly, October 1994), held an open discussion. Topics covered included operation, problem areas, research and cost of operation. Cost was the subject which drew most attention.

Due to lack of programme time and limited knowledge of overseas wind turbines, the discussions failed to reach much depth. But it appeared that thin experience and the short history of commercial wind turbine installation seemed to be the reason for the high costs in Japan. After more studies, the subject will be further discussed at the next Japanese Wind Energy Association conference.

The 1995 JWEC is expected to attract 200 participants and will need to find a larger venue. So far, JWEC has not introduced the possibility of exhibition stands to companies and organisations, but such improvements are planned for 1995.

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