Land of the Rising Sun Turns To Wind

The population of Japan, known as the “Land of the Rising Sun” is approximately 126.48 million people. In 2015, utilities used liquefied natural gas (27%), coal (26%), renewable energy (25%), nuclear energy (13%) and oil (9%) to generate electricity in the country. Japan is heavily dependent on imports of all fossil fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas). Hydropower is the dominant source of renewable energy in Japan.

On March 11, 2011, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake occurred approximately twenty miles off the eastern coast of Japan. The earthquake created a tsunami that devastated the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in the Fukushima Prefecture of Tohoku. The Fukushima nuclear disaster caused the government of Japan to shut down many of the country’s nuclear power plants and to increase imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG).

In 2016, Japan signed the Paris Climate Agreement and committed to reduce its greenhouse gas emission by 26% below 2013 levels by 2030. Japan’s government has also adopted a long-term emissions reduction strategy, including the goal to be carbon-neutral soon after 2050.

Although nuclear power emits zero greenhouse gases, there is strong opposition to building more new nuclear facilities. Development of offshore wind projects may be way for Japan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions without building more nuclear power plants.

In February 2020, the Marubeni Corporation announced it had commenced construction on two offshore wind farms off the northern coast of Japan. The two wind farms will have a total capacity of 140 MW and will cost approximately U.S. $930 million to complete. The power from the wind farm will be sold to Tohoku Electric Power. The two wind farms are forecast to begin operation in 2022.

The Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI) has announced its first public tender for a floating offshore wind project. Companies have until year-end 2020 to submit a bid to provide 16 MW capacity floating capacity off the country’s southwestern most island. The winner of the public tender will be announced in June 2021.

The Japanese government’s goal is to generate 22% to 24% of the country’s renewable energy. Offshore wind projects are Japan’s best option to reduce greenhouse gas emissions without nuclear power.

Jack Kerfoot

Website – “Our Energy Conundrum”

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