A decade-long project of the government aimed at tripling Japan’s supply capacity of wind power-generated electricity will be launched at the beginning of the 2013 fiscal year, according to local news. Both public and private sectors will spend some 310 billion yen (approx. $3.35 billion) on developing transmission grids in Hokkaido and the Tohoku regions, specifically northern Hokkaido, the Shimokita and Tsugaru peninsulas in Aomori Prefecture, and the Akita Prefecture coast.
With the continuing search for alternatives to nuclear power, wind has been considered a key source to increase the proportion of renewable energy because of its capacity to generate a larger amount of power and still remain cheaper than solar or geothermal power—in 2010, wind power generation was estimated to cost about 10 yen per kilowatt-hour. And yet, in 2011, it amounted to less than 0.1 percent of the country’s total power production. By building more transmission grids, the government hopes that this will balance out Japan’s sources of energy. With the strong winds that consistently blow through the region, Hokkaido and the Tohoku region is seen as the most viable option to develop first. After all, there are already existing transmission networks there.
The plan is without a downside, of course. Because the wind is constantly changing, holding a maximum output is difficult; this means that it is necessary to equip transformer substations with large-scale reserve cells, on top of the additional transmission grids, to ensure stable supply. The length of the development is also an issue, as a minimum of seven years of planning and development is necessary before the transmission grids can start operating for commercial use. Nevertheless, this is a good progress in terms of alternative sources of energy for Japan.