TOKYO, July 3 Japan's first offshore wind farm
is set to start generating electricity in January, a government
agency said, as the country looks to diversify away from nuclear
power, as well as pricey oil and liquefied natural gas.
Although the 2.4 megawatt (MW) demonstration facility has
been in the pipeline for years, it starts as the country's
energy landscape is shifting dramatically in the wake of the
Fukushima crisis, the world's worst nuclear disaster since
Chernobyl in 1986.
Japan hopes to begin building commercial offshore wind farms
in several years, following the trail blazed by Europe and
especially world leader Britain, which has taken advantage of
its long, windy coastline.
The environment ministry has estimated Japan has the
potential to eventually build a huge 1,600 gigawatts of offshore
wind power capacity, though it would have to overcome a raft of
technological problems to get there. The nation's current
nuclear capacity stands at 46.15 GW.
Under the FIT scheme, Japanese utilities must buy
electricity from renewable sources such as wind, solar and
geothermal at pre-set premiums for up to 20 years.
The wind facility, off the coast of Choshi, east of Tokyo,
is being jointly developed by the New Energy and Industrial
Technology Development Organization (NEDO) and Tokyo Electric
Power, which ran the crippled Fukushima Daiichi atomic
NEDO is also teaming up with Electric Power Development Co
(J-Power) to build a 2 MW offshore wind farm off the
coast of Kitakyushu in southwestern Japan that will start
generating power as early as May next year.
(Reporting by Osamu Tsukimori; Editing by Joseph Radford)