Japan aims to triple wind power

JAPAN - The government aims to triple the nation's supply capacity of electricity generated through wind power to 7.5 million kilowatts by developing transmission grids in Hokkaido and the Tohoku region, it has been learned.

Under a decadelong project the government will launch in fiscal 2013, which starts in April, the public and private sectors will spend about 310 billion yen (S$4.1 billion) on development.

Wind is considered a key source for increasing the proportion of renewable energy because it can generate a great deal of power at one site and is less expensive than solar and geothermal power.

The government estimates that wind power generation cost just about 10 yen per kilowatt hour as of 2010--almost the same as thermal power generation by liquefied natural gas.

However, wind-generated power in Japan amounted to 179.63 million kilowatt-hours in fiscal 2011--less than 0.1 per cent of the nation's total power production.

The government hopes that building transmission grids to increase the supply capacity of electricity generated by wind power will help achieve a desirable balance within the energy supply.

Given the strong winds that regularly blow there, Hokkaido and the coastlines of Tohoku are among the most suitable locations in the nation for wind power generation. Currently, Hokkaido Electric Power Co. and Tohoku Electric Power Co. have built transmission lines to connect wind power generation sites and existing transmission networks.

However, the two utilities have found it difficult to further promote wind power generation due to difficulties securing funds to build more transmission lines.

For the envisaged project, the government has decided to cover the costs of building transmission grids with fees for using the networks collected from wind power generating companies. The companies will be set up mainly by trading houses.

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