Generous solar power feed-in tariffs have driven a boom in installations in the last year or so in Japan, but it is the nature of FITs to shrink. And there seems to be a sense that when that happens and solar cools off, wind power might find a new opening in the Japanese market.
This is the speculation from industry players in a new Japan Times article looking at wind power in Japan. GE sure seems to be positioning itself for opportunities in Japan, introducing what it calls the “2.85-103 wind turbine for Japan.” That’s right, Japan gets its own wind turbine.
What is it about Japan that it requires a specially designed wind turbine? GE explains:
GE’s 2.85-103 wind turbine is specifically engineered for Japanese environmental conditions and is able to withstand higher turbulence areas, typhoon class extreme wind speeds and lightning beyond the current IEC standard. The 2.85-103 for Japan includes the Japanese requirements for lightning protection across all Japanese regions and complies with the Japan Electric Utility Law and Japanese construction and building codes.
Japan’s installed wind power capacity inched up steadily during the ’00s, with 200 to 300 megawatts going in each year. But last year saw just 50 megawatts go in, and the country’s total of 2,661 as of the end of 2013 was minuscule compared not just to much bigger and more populous countries like China (91,424 MW) and the U.S. (61,091 MW), but to the more comparably sized Germany (34,250 MW) and Spain (22,959 MW).
Given its physical nature, much of the wind-power attention of late has been on offshore turbines. Because the country – like the U.S. West Coast – is on a continental shelf that drops off quickly in the sea, this has required developing new floating turbine technology. Demonstration projects are ongoing.