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The Future of Japanese Renewables

2 min read

Offshore renewables in Japan are about to receive a significant boost after a bill was passed by the Japanese government last November allowing wind farms to operate inside national territorial waters for the next 30 years.

Since the March 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, which was caused by the Tohoku earthquake and subsequent tsunami, Japan has reopened only nine of its 54 nuclear reactors. This accounts to only 9GW a year and a shortfall of up to 10GW a year by 2030.

Since the disaster, Japan has become massively dependent on imports of natural gas to meet its energy demands, being resource poor domestically and producing only a small amount of oil, gas and coal. Using our Trade module you can see that over the past year and ranked by cargo tons, Japan’s top import country for LNG carrying vessels is Australia, followed by Malaysia and Qatar.

VV Trade Data (Download image)

At present, wind power accounts for over 10% of the total amount of electricity generated in Germany and the United Kingdom compared to less than 1% in Japan.

Traditionally, solar power was the main renewable energy source in the country, with about 80% of the market, but has declined since a decrease in government subsidies and lack of suitable locations.

Offshore wind farms are set to flourish due to several factors, mostly through recent technological advances in floating wind turbines which allow for installation in Japan’s deep coastal waters.

Japan has the seventh longest coastline in the world and an offshore wind potential of 1600GW. However, 80% of this is in deep water over 50 metres in depth. VV’s mapping module shows that there are currently a number of wind turbine locations around Japan’s coast but no winds farms that are currently built, however with the passing of the recent bill, this looks set to change.

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10GW of Offshore wind power is needed annually to meet the government’s target for 2030. The Japan Wind Power Association predicts 4GW of floating wind farms and 6GW of fixed wind farms by 2030.

With the cost of floating wind turbines decreasing due to advances in technology, the future for offshore wind in Japan looks bright. We will be keeping ahead of any future developments through our Mapping products.

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