A run for the money

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Okinawa New Energy Development Co Inc (ONED) of Japan is testing 12 European wind turbines from three countries before placing orders for wind farms, probably in three years time. "[Our] overall aim is to cover 9% of Okinawa's electricity consumption by wind energy in the future," says ONED's Hirotaka Oshiro.

Eight companies from Germany, Netherlands and Denmark are in the running (table). Of the 12 turbines, ten of them will be or have been built on the main island of Okinawa, while the Vestas 600 kW and Enercon 500 kW units operate on Miyakojima Island. In addition to these, Oshiro says ONED plans to buy more machines in 1999, to be situated on other small islands.

Test site

Most recently ONED has ordered two wind turbines from Germany's Nordex Balcke-Dürr. One of these, a 250 kW model, will be erected at ONED's test site in Ginoza, where it will operate alongside five of the other test turbines. A second 150 kW Nordex machine will be installed in Gushikawa and supply electricity to Gushikawa Electric Power Station. ONED has paid JPY 800 million for the Nordex units, which are slated to be installed in June, says Yoshiaki Uchiyama of Ishikawajima Harima Heavy Industries Co of Tokyo, the Japanese agent for Nordex.

ONED is a joint venture between Okinawa Electric Power Co Inc, Nippon Telegraph and Telephone, and eight local companies. The company hopes to take advantage of the good wind potential in Okinawa, supplementing the existing electricity supply that is mostly produced by diesel turbines.

The Japanese government is actively promoting wind power development and has developed a series of strategies in which large amounts of wind power could be developed. The only Japanese company still involved in manufacturing utility scale wind turbines is Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

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