Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
I saw a windfarm or two in Kyushu (and quite a few roofs with solar panels are noticable on a train between Kobe and Osaka, say).

But Japan's landscape and politics does not appear to be favourable:

"To construct wind stations, you need to find places where strong winds blow. But such places are often on mountains or on the coastlines of islands and peninsulas, and the landforms are complex," said Hiroshi Imamura, a senior researcher at wind power consulting firm Wind Energy Institute of Tokyo.

Complex land features create unstable winds, making it difficult to stabilize power generation. And the several typhoons that either swipe or cross Japan each year threaten to damage the stations, hamstringing progress in Japan's wind power quest...

"It's understandable that power companies are buying less wind power out of concern over unreliable supply," said Arakawa.

Power surges can be a problem for industrial customers, said Hirotaka Hayashi, a spokesman at Hokkaido Electric. Utilities often need to cut back power generation at other plants to lessen the effect of excess power from wind energy.

"Continental European countries such as Germany and Denmark can transfer excess power from windmills to other countries," said Arakawa. "The electricity networks of Japan's 10 utilities aren't connected like those in Europe. That's the reason why it's difficult to install windmills in Japan."

To ensure steady supply, Tohoku Electric Power Co., Japan's fourth-biggest generator, in March started requiring owners of new windmills to store energy in batteries before distribution rather than send the electricity direct to the utility, said spokesman Satoshi Arakawa.

.... That requirement has increased wind project installation costs to 300,000 yen ($2,560) per kilowatt, from 200,000 yen, according to Toshiro Ito, vice president of EcoPower Co., Japan's third-biggest wind power supplier.

Tetsunari Iida, executive director of the Tokyo-based Institute for Sustainable Energy, believes Japan's dominant electric companies are preventing the growth of wind power. The country's 10 electric companies are formidable regional monopolies. The largest dominate the areas of Tokyo, Chiba and Kansai, and they leverage significant political clout.

"They act as regional monopolies, functional monopolies, and political monopolies," Iida said. "They are the rule makers and they make an effort to exclude wind power from their grid."

And here is a comment from the hot Oil Drum diary:

Where is the Prius built and designed? How about the Insight? How about a lot of the PV cells? The turbines that go inside windmills? For better or worse, the majority of "conservation" technologies have been built and designed in Japan. How did they do this? They built nuclear power plants to have clean reliable power. Semiconductor lines don't operate properly with even the slightest power fluctuations. You are never going to operate them with wind or solar power. This disaster's impacts on global supply chains are only beginning to be felt, let alone imagined. BAU just took a major hit in the BUTt. IMHO

by das monde on Mon Mar 14th, 2011 at 01:27:32 AM EST
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