Japanese 2018 installations up 60%

Japan installed 261MW last year, up 61% year on year on 2017's additions, but lengthy environmental impact assessments (EIAs) continue to hinder development, according to the country's wind power association (JWPA).

Pattern Energy's 33mW Ohorayama project was the second-largest wind farm commissioned in Japan last year
Pattern Energy's 33mW Ohorayama project was the second-largest wind farm commissioned in Japan last year

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JWPA had lobbied to increase the lower threshold at which projects would need to undergo an EIA from 10MW to 50MW, but the Japanese environment ministry rejected the proposal late last year.

Along with a lack of grid capacity, the arduous EIA process slows progress on development, meaning most projects in the near-term pipeline will not start operation until 2020, JWPA explained.

However, beyond 2020, both onshore and offshore development is expected to ramp up.

All of the 261MW Japan added last year was onshore capacity. It marked an increase on the 162MW commissioned in 2017 and the 169MW installed in 2016.

Enercon and GE dominated the turbine market in 2018 with 32.3% and 30.1% market shares, ahead of Siemens Gamesa (17.7%), Hitachi (14.3%) and Vestas (5.6%).

Of Japan’s 3,653MW cumulative online capacity at the end of 2018, offshore wind accounts for just 64.6MW.

A 3MW floating demonstration project was installed in 2018, but is not due to be commissioned until this year.

There is an offshore project pipeline of more than 5GW, JWPA stated, but the first of these sites are not expected online until 2021.

Between 300MW and 400MW is expected to be commissioned annually between 2021 and 2023, before yearly installations ramp up to 1GW-1.1GW from 2024 to 2027.

In total, 4.2GW of new offshore capacity is expected online by 2028, JWPA said.

Wind power produced about 6TWh in Japan last year, accounting for 0.6% of the country’s electricity. The government expects 1.7% of Japan’s power to come from wind by 2030.

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