GE Says Japan Has More Potential to Harness Wind Power

February 27, 2014 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

General Electric Co. (GE) considers Japan
ripe for new investment in wind power as the resource-poor
country diversifies energy supply in the wake of the Fukushima
nuclear disaster almost three years ago.

To that end, GE has developed a 2.85-megawatt turbine for
Japan that can withstand conditions unique to the Asian country.
It can survive typhoon-strength winds, turbulent conditions and
lighting strikes common in the nation.

“As you look at Japan and how we think about the energy
mix in Japan, overall energy diversity is key,” Anne McEntee,
chief executive officer of renewable energy at GE Power Water,
said at a conference yesterday in Tokyo where she outlined the
Fairfield, Connecticut-based company’s approach to Japan.

While Japan is burning more coal and natural gas to make up
for nuclear power shut down after the disaster at Fukushima,
McEntee said there’s more potential to develop clean energy.

“We see an opportunity, and that opportunity is in
renewables” that require no fuels and cause no carbon dioxide
emissions, she said.

GE and its rivals are pushing Japan to stimulate the wind
industry, which has received little new investment even though
incentives for the technology were introduced in July 2012.
Solar power by contrast has boomed.

GE has the second-largest share of the Japanese market in
terms of cumulative installed wind capacity after Vestas Wind
Systems A/S (VWS)
, a Danish turbine maker, according to the Japan Wind
Power Association. Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (7011) Ltd.,
which announced an offshore wind venture with Vestas in
September, ranks third.

Wind Supply

Solar accounted for 97 percent of added renewable capacity
since Japan’s incentive program began. Wind supplied 1.1
percent, according to data from the Ministry of Economy, Trade
and Industry released on Feb. 21.

Wind development is being held up by requirements to
conduct environmental impact assessments, Tetsuro Nagata,
president of the wind association, said in an interview earlier
this year. The requirement took effect three months after the
incentive program’s beginning.

Japan lags countries such as China and the U.S. in wind
installations. Japan had 34 times less wind generation capacity
than China at the end of 2013, according to the Global Wind
Energy Council.

“The environmental assessment is long at three years, and
there is a lack of feasible sites,” Takehiro Kawahara, an
analyst for Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said by e-mail. “Grid
constraints also present a significant barrier, both in terms of
available capacity in wind rich resource areas and a lack of
good information on grid availability.”

The JWPA estimates Japan has potential resources of 144
gigawatts for onshore wind and 608 gigawatts for offshore wind.
The nation currently has 2.7 gigawatts of total wind capacity,
according to the group’s estimates.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Chisaki Watanabe in Tokyo at

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Reed Landberg at

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