Japan to boost grid investment for renewables

JAPAN: The Japanese government is planning financial support for companies to develop grid networks in the north of the country.

The Agency for Natural Resources and Energy, a division of the economy, trade and industry ministry, is focusing on developments in the windy areas of northern Hokkaido, Japan’s second largest island, and north-east Honshu, the country’s biggest and most populated island.

The ministry will subsidise companies conducting feasibility studies. It will also fund cable design, development and technical experiments that emerge from the research.

The subsidies will cover trials until 31 March 2015, and may be extended another year.

Yoshinori Ueda, leader of the International Committee of the Japan Wind Power Association and Japan Wind Energy Association, said: "A large part of Japan’s wind resources are located in Hokkaido and the north-east, but these areas have little power demand due to their low population densities, so have not seen much grid development.

"This mismatch has been a major constraint on the expanded introduction of wind power in Japan."

Japan is keen to develop alternative sources of energy as its nuclear power plants are currently offline, even more so now that Tokyo has been been awarded the 2020 Olympic and Paralympics Games.

The ministry estimates Hokkaido has a generating capacity of approximately 3.9GW.