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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

New Offshore Wind Farm Near Fukushima Nuclear Plant

On Monday, November 11, 2013, Japan switched on the first turbine at a wind farm located a mere 20 kilometers (12 miles) off the coast of Fukushima-ken.

For the decimated region, the wind farm near the Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant will offer a renewed energy supply.

Known as Fukushima Floating OffshoRe Wind FARm Demonstration Project (Forward) Phase 1, it is not running at capacity yet, though it will be able to generate 1 GW (gigawatt) from 143 turbines… but it's doing more than blowing warm air up your skirt.

While the energy is nice, it is a symbolic restructuring of a region… all due to the fallout from TEPCO's mishandling of a nuclear problem or three… which caused a population exodus, and a mistrust of Japanese goods by the world that helped cripple the country's economy.

If you don't know what I'm talking about - feel free to use this blog as reference and search for March 11, 9.0 Magnitude earthquake, tsunami, near nuclear meltdown, Dai-ichi, nuclear radiation, contaminant, leak, etcetra.

With all 50 of Japan's viable (IE working) nuclear reactors off-line for safety checks brought about after the March 11, 2011, 2012 and 2013 problems in Fukushima—though various Japanese utility companies have requested permission to start-up 14 reactors—Japan's is sailing high on the premise of wind as a viable energy technology.

Marubeni Corp. which built this wind farm, and others, are investing heavily in renewable energy—as well as conventional sources—thanks to positive Japanese government policies aimed at nurturing favored industries.

One of those positives was 2012's implementation of a higher wholesale tariff for energy generated by non-conventional sources…

Because Japan's coast is mostly-ringed by deep waters, companies have pioneered a floating wind turbine design—specific for seabeds of depths greater than 50 meters (165 feet).

The 2 MW downwind floating turbine was built at a dry dock near Tokyo and towed to its location off the northeastern coast. Six huge chains anchor the turbine to the seabed 120 meters (almost 400 feet) below the water's surface.

The turbine is linked to a 66 kilovolt floating power substation—the world’s first—via an extra-high voltage undersea cable.

Despite the proposed success of this wind facility and the country's desire to utilize greener energy sources, the people in charge have different ideas and ideals.

Japan's current ruling Liberal Democratic Party (search this blog for a Yakuza reference to this political party: "Minamata"), and the powerful business lobby Keidanren and others—well, no one believes that more sustainable power generation sources can ever make up for the power of nuclear energy.

They are correct - at least at this present stage in non-nuclear power development. But you have to start somewhere.

Wind power average generating capacity = 2 Wh/m2*

Solar power average generating capacity = 20 Wh/m2

Nuclear power average generating capacity = 1,000 Wh/m2.

*Wh/m2 = watts per square meter.

Unlike other power generating options, placing the turbines off shore presents little problem for the population. No one wants noisy turbines in their backyard… and even though these ones are far offshore and quiet, it doesn't mess up the coastal view… because the place is deserted thanks to the past nuclear disaster problems.

This was just a one off project to show the viability of Japan's wind power technology, but although there are no formalized plans, wind blowers would like to see dozens of wind turbines placed off the coast of Fukushima.

Hmmm… with all of the media complaining about the Dai-ichi plant leaking contaminated radioactive materials into the ground and water around the damaged Fukushima plant… were there not any concerns about the workers who were building the wind power plant a mere 20 kilometers away?

After all… was there not a 30-kilometer zone of no entry for people around Dai-ichi… for safety reasons?

Just asking… and maybe someone needs to talk to the builders of the wind plant. Whomever that is...

Andrew Joseph

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