Fukushima Floating Offshore Wind Turbine Starts Generating

November 12, 2013 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

A development to harness the power
of the wind about 20 kilometers (12 miles) off the coast of
Fukushima, site of the March 2011 nuclear disaster, began
generating power on an operational basis today.

The project, funded by the government and led by Marubeni
Corp. (8002)
, is a symbol of Japan’s ambition to commercialize the
unproven technology of floating offshore wind power and its plan
to turn quake-ravaged Fukushima into a clean energy hub.

“Fukushima is making a stride toward the future step by
step,” Yuhei Sato, governor of Fukushima, said today at a
ceremony in Fukushima marking the project’s initiation.
“Floating offshore wind is a symbol of such a future.”

The 11-member group’s project so far consists of a 2-megawatt turbine from Hitachi Ltd. (6501) nicknamed “Fukushima
Mirai.” A floating substation, the first of its kind, has also
been set up and bears the name “Fukushima Kizuna.” Mirai means
future, while kizuna translates as ties.

The group is planning to install two more turbines by
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. (7011) with 7 megawatts of capacity
each. The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has said the
floating offshore capacity may be expanded to 1,000 megawatts.

Reliability, Safety

“The evaluation of safety, reliability and economic
potential of the offshore floating wind farm through the
collection and analysis of meteorological data, hydrographic
data and performance data will be carried out during the
experimental study,” according to a statement released by the
group.

Officials say the project needs approval from local
fishermen before becoming a commercial operation.

For Japan, which is surrounded by deep oceans, floating
wind turbines hold the promise of opening up large areas to
produce clean energy. The technology involves attaching turbines
to structures that float in areas too deep for traditional
towers fixed to the seafloor.

The trade ministry has already set aside 22 billion yen
($222 million) for the five-year undertaking, according to
ministry officials. The trade ministry is requesting an
additional 31 billion yen for the fiscal year starting April 1.

The Fukushima project follows similar projects with
floating turbines in Norway, Portugal and Nagasaki in
southwestern Japan. The Nagasaki project is backed by Japan’s
environment ministry.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Chisaki Watanabe in Tokyo at
cwatanabe5@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Reed Landberg at
landberg@bloomberg.net

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