Japan joins race to develop floating wind turbines

JAPAN: Japan is aiming to take a lead in the development of floating-turbine technology as part of a post-Fukushima shift to renewables.

The Kamisu wind farm on Japan's east coast withstood the tsunami
The Kamisu wind farm on Japan's east coast withstood the tsunami

Japan’s trade ministry said it was planning a ¥10-20 billion ($130-260 million) project to develop floating turbine in the deep waters off the northern coast.

Japan hopes to develop a 1GW floating offshore project off its northern coast by 2020. The announcement follows the passing of a renewable-energy bill in the upper house of Japan's parliament.

Speaking about the move, a Trade Ministry official said: "In order to take [a] lead in offshore wind power, we want domestic studies and developments to take place and manufacturers to boost capabilities.

"From the standpoint of supporting reconstruction and promoting wind power, we believe it is good to pursue research and development for offshore wind farms."

There is sound reasoning behind Japan’s push for offshore wind. When the tsunami struck, the Kamisu near-shore wind farm on Japan's east coast withstood the magnitude-nine earthquake and contributed vital electricity in the aftermath of the disaster.

Kamisu is located 40 metres off Ibaraki prefecture and is comprised of seven 2MW Fuji Heavy Industries wind turbines.

Floating turbine technology has been in development for a number of years. Norway is currently working on its Hywind and Sway projects. Spain and France have a number of trial projects underway.

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