Land of the Rising Sun and Wind

The current population of Japan, known as the “Land of the Rising Sun” is approximately 126.95 million people. In 2016, utilities used fossil fuels (82%), renewable energy (16%) and nuclear power (2%) to generate electricity in the country. Hydropower is are the primary sources of renewable energy in Japan.

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident, which occurred on March 11, 2011; dramatically impacted Japan’s energy strategy. The majority of Japanese citizens favor eliminating nuclear power. However, Japan’s current government has been reluctant to phase out nuclear energy. Offshore wind may help solve Japan’s energy conundrum.

Tokyo Electric Power Company Holding, Inc. (TEPCO) and Ørsted A/S (Ørsted) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to work jointly on offshore wind projects. TEPCO is Japan’s largest electric utility and is headquartered in Tokyo, Japan. Ørsted is an energy company, headquartered in Fredericia, Denmark. Ørsted is the leading developer in offshore wind farms in the world.

Ørsted CEO and President, Henrik Poulsen, stated: “As the largest player in the Japanese electricity industry, TEPCO has deep insights into the local power market and the regulatory requirements. This MoU is the first step in Ørsted and TEPCO’s aspirations to deliver on Japan’s ambitions for domestic renewable power generation at a large scale and contribute to making Japan a leading offshore wind market in the Asia-Pacific. We welcome this first opportunity to work with TEPCO and look forward to strengthening our relationship further.”

Japan’s offshore wind market is gaining momentum following the government’s commitment to increase the deployment of renewables and the passing of the legislative foundation for designation of large-scale offshore wind development areas. In its Fifth Basic Energy Supply Plan from July 2018, the Japanese government targets a 10 GW wind capacity (offshore and onshore) by 2030 as part of its ambition to reach a 22-24% renewable share of electricity generation by 2030.

The government of Japan is faced with an enormous energy conundrum. Japan has the third largest economy in the world and relies heavily on fossil fuels. As a signer of the Paris Agreement, Japan has committed to dramatically reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Prior to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident, Japan saw nuclear power as the way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Today, the citizens of Japan are united in their opposition to nuclear power. Major offshore wind projects may prove to be one solutions to Japan’s energy conundrum.

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