Japan's wind industry hails earthquake-resilient turbines


Japanese Wind Power Association reveals wind farm owners have been asked to step up production to help cover energy shortages

Japan's wind turbines survived last week's earthquake and as a result utilities have now asked wind farm operators to boost power output to make up for energy shortages in the country, the leader of the Japanese wind energy association has revealed.


Writing on the Huffington Post, Kelly Rigg, chief executive of the Global Campaign for Climate Action, yesterday revealed she had spoken to Yoshinori Ueda, leader of the International Committee of the Japan Wind Power Association and Japan Wind Energy Association, who told her that none of its members reported damage to wind turbines after last week's natural disasters.

Although some wind turbines did stop operating as a result of grid failure caused by the earthquake and tsunami, Ueda said most Japanese wind turbines were fully operational, including the Kamisu semi-offshore wind farm which was located about 300km from the epicenter of the quake.

Eurus Energy Holdings said on Monday that it had resumed operations at six wind farms in northern Japan, which had stopped running after the earthquake. The resumption of power output came in response to a request from Tohoku Electric Power, one of the utilities battling to cope with power shortages in the wake of the disaster.

As Japan's nuclear crisis continues to unfold, investor confidence in renewable energy and fossil fuels is expected to rise, with doubts increasing around the saftey of nuclear power.

For example, the Japan Wind Development company saw its share price increase after the earthquake, closing at 50,000 yen on 14 March compared to 43,500 yen on 10 March.

The demonstrated resilience of wind turbines in the crisis is also likely to further bolster the profile of renewable energy among political leaders, some of whom are reviewing their energy portfolios in light of the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

Connie Hedegaard, EU climate change commissioner, said yesterday that generating energy from wind turbines at sea would be cheaper than building new atomic power plants.

Meanwhile, workers at the stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant are currently using fire trucks to spray tonnes of water over the reactors posing the greatest threat in the latest attempt to cool the over-heating fuel rods.

The work comes as the head of the United Nations' International Atomic Energy Agency, Yukiya Amano, accused the Japanese authorities of failing to provide enough information to the international community on the severity of the incident.