Offshore Wind May Become Key to Japan’s Energy Mix, Vestas Says

Wind energy, especially offshore, could become a key power source as the country reviews its energy strategy, Vestas Wind Systems A/S Chief Marketing Officer Morten Albaek said.

“If Japan is going to reduce its imports of fossil fuels, then you need to get more renewable energy into the energy mix,” he said in an interview in Tokyo. “Wind will play a key role, and offshore wind will be a significant segment inside wind energy.”

Japan, the biggest buyer of liquefied natural gas, is reviewing its energy mix after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster and the change of government in December. An incentive program started in July has boosted investments in clean energy, with most new capacity so far in solar power. Wind supplied 0.49 percent of electricity demand in 2011, according to the International Energy Agency.

The application and approval process for wind projects needs to be “optimized,” Albaek said in the interview yesterday, citing the environmental impact studies required of developers. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s cabinet this month approved a growth strategy that includes trying to speed up the studies, which usually take three to four years.

Japan has many factors that favor the growth of wind power, Albaek said, including above-market rates for clean energy, an ambition to be more independent of energy imports, strong public support for renewables, and plenty of wind.

Vestas and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., Japan’s largest heavy-machinery maker, are in talks to develop an 8-megawatt turbine, Vestas Chief Financial Officer Dag Andresen said in November. Andresen has since resigned. Albaek declined to comment on the talks.

Japan ranked 13th in the world with 2,614 megawatts of installed wind capacity at the end of last year, according to the Global Wind Energy Council.

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