POWER UTILITY | Karen Mesina, Japan

3 challenges hampering Japan's wind energy growth

Connectivity is an issue despite the country being a leader in technology.

Japan may be scrambling to get more energy from sources other than nuclear, but its wind power sector remains a tough nut to crack. The small country is mountainous with 70% of its land mass covered with mountains. This would have given the country a good edge to harness wind energy but unfortunately, in 2015, Japan only generated 3.04GW of wind power.

Masuo Kuremura, assistant director for new and renewable energy division at Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, said at The World Smart Energy Week that Japan has three challenges to deal with to make sure wind power gets to the national grid. "Firstly, the good wind areas are very limited as these are all far-flung ones that are difficult to connect to the grid. We need to have good connection to get the power from there to high demand areas and we have to increase the network gradually so as not to stress it, he said."

Secondly, he said that the country has to introduce inexpensive power as much as possible. Japan is technically "wind-rich" as opposed to being "sun-rich," but developers keep shifting their focus to solar energy projects because it is relatively cheaper.

Lastly, he pointed out that the country's assessment time must be shortened and fixed. "Some wind power projects can't be commissioned because of long assessment time. We plan to shorten it and make it succinct so that eventually, massive wind power can come to the grid. In 3 years, wind power share will increase significantly (both onshore and ofshore), but for now Japanese wind power market is admittedly still in infancy," Kuremura said.

The World Smart Energy Week is currently being held from March 1 to 3 at Tokyo, Japan.

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