The prefectural governments of Japan are backing solar power in a big way, fueling the push towards renewable energy sources. 17 prefectures across the nation either have a solar power facility, or are planning to build one – these local governments represent one-third of all prefectural governments in Japan. The solar power plants they are currently maintaining or planning to build will at least capable of generating at the very least 1,000 kilowatts (equal to 1 megawatt) of electricity, and in some cases, some prefectural governments are planning more than one facility.
Construction on a large scale 400MW solar power park on a remote island off Sasebo city in southern Japan is set to begin sometime in May, after the project was given a planning consent yesterday. This is part of Japan's move to lessen dependence on nuclear power and expensive gas imports and instead focus on renewable energies.
As it continues to find ways to minimize dependency in nuclear energy, Japan will add over 5 gigawatts of solar power (photovoltaic) capacity this year, which could effectively surpass Germany and the United States, said a recently released report, entitled ‘The P.V. Market in Japan’, by IMS Research. The report forecasts that the photovoltaic market will probably cause an upsurge of about 120% in 2013 thanks to its feed-in tariff (FIT) for any solar endeavors.
In an effort to diversify Japan’s energy mix and develop wind turbine technology, the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) has partnered with Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) and Electric Power Development Co. (J-Power) in the completion of two offshore facilities. Masaharu Itoh, director of the new energy technology department of NEDO, said that the 2.4-megawatt turbine installed by Tepco is built off Choshi in Chiba Prefecture, while the 2-megawatt turbine off Kitakyushu on the southern island of Kyushu will be completed next month through J-Power.
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.
Japan's Mitsubishi Corp. has announced an investment of roughly $770 million in four offshore wind farms in Germany. The company will be taking 49% stake in the project with Tennet, a Netherlands-based grid operator, that will see high-voltage cables connecting the wind farms to Germany's power grid.
A consortium of seven Japanese companies are celebrating this week as they broke ground on what is to be the country's largest solar and wind power plant in Tahara City, Aichi Prefecture. The group, which includes Toshiba, Mitsui & Co., Toagosei Co., and others, say their project will have a capacity of 50 megawatts of solar power and a capacity of 6 megawatts from wind.
As the popularity of renewable energy, especially solar power, soars due to the withdrawal from nuclear power, researchers are looking at more creative ways to use solar panels than placing them on roofs and any available flat space. Japan's Eco Marine Power has revealed an "EnergySail" concept where rigid solar panels could also act as sails on cargo ships. This would harness both solar and wind power to lower fuel costs and emissions, as well as be an additional source of energy for the ship's main engines.
Pretty soon, Japan's coastal areas will be home to marine wind turbines in an effort to create even more zero emission energy sources. A 126 meter tall wind turbine, embedded in the seabed on the eastern tip of the Kanto Plain and the biggest wind turbine in Japan is set to start operations early 2013.