Japan doubles and will do it again

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Japan installed about 65 MW of wind plant in 2000, a near doubling of capacity in just a year. So far, most wind projects have been built in the northern part of the country in areas like Hokkaido, Aomori prefecture and Yamagata. Companies are increasingly looking south to Kyushu, however, as the northern utility on Hokkaido has issued a stop to large wind projects until 2002.

This month a new energy bill is expected to go to vote in parliament to pressure -- but not require -- utilities to buy a set amount of wind energy from independent power producers. For the year ahead, a number of large projects are expected to be completed using turbines from Danish Bonus and Vestas -- 32.5 MW and 24.7 MW in capacity, respectively -- a 14 MW plant from German Enercon and two 21 MW wind stations from Dutch Lagerwey the WindMaster. Several big projects are already approved for 2002 and 2003.

The two most active wind turbine suppliers are Danish companies NEG Micon and Vestas, followed by Bonus, also from Denmark (table). But Dutch company Lagerwey says it is completing orders which will bring its installed capacity in Japan to 46 MW before long, with more on the way.

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