Japan growth plan to prioritise renewable energy

Wind energy will be one of nation's "new industries"

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A forthcoming long-term growth strategy for the Japanese economy will identify wind energy as one of several "new industries" earmarked to lift the country out of its economic malaise.

Reuters reports that a draft of the plan – due for publication at the end of the month – foresees development of a 50 trillion yen ($628bn) market in renewable energy and energy efficiency services by 2020.

The growth plan is the responsibility of Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (Meti). The ministry has identified four areas of the economy from which national growth will be sustained over coming years. "New energy industries" is one of the four selected.

Within this category, Meti has picked out three renewable energy technologies: wind, solar photovoltaic (pv) and geothermal. In addition, it wants to see energy storage technologies become a "strategic industry", as these will support the use and distribution of renewably-generated electricity.

Meti has already made a significant commitment to offshore wind, by funding the Forward project. Forward will see some of Japan’s biggest industrial names collaborate in order to develop cost-effective floating offshore wind solutions (Windpower Offshore 18-Jun-12).

A second, smaller floating offshore wind trial is underway in the Goto Islands, funded by Japan’s environment ministry (Windpower Offshore 07-Jun-12).

A recently-introduced regime of feed-in tariffs for wind energy has also prompted the developers of a 2.4MW fixed-foundation offshore wind trial to proceed. The Chosi offshore demonstration project is due to begin generating electricity in January 2013.

Japan has struggled with frequent electricity shortages since last year's earthquake and tsunami led to the closure of all of its nuclear power stations.


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