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Wind power facilities planned for Fukushima Prefecture

The national government and the Fukushima Prefectural Government have agreed to set up 500 megawatts' worth of wind power plants in Fukushima Prefecture and begin sending the generated power to the Tokyo metropolitan area by 2020, it was learned on May 23.

    The project is part of a plan to redevelop Fukushima Prefecture as a leading area in renewable energy. Hundreds of 2- to 3-megawatt wind power turbines are planned to be set up along the coast and in the Abukuma region, where relatively stable wind power can be obtained. At around 500 megawatts, the full amount of power generated is expected to be about one-tenth of what the crippled Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant used to produce.

    The Fukushima Prefectural Government is proceeding with checks of the wind in potential construction sites along the coast and in the Abukuma region and with assessments of the expected impact on the environment in order to find which areas are best suited to wind power.

    The Shin-Fukushima transformer substation, out of use since the 2011 nuclear disaster, is planned to be used in sending the power. The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry is moving forward with plans to set up power lines to connect the existing power grid with the new wind power plants.

    Within the year, Fukushima Prefecture will invite businesses to participate in the project. Participating businesses will pay 1 million yen per megawatt of power produced to an organization for the promotion of renewable energy in Fukushima Prefecture consisting of the central government, the Fukushima Prefectural Government and Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co., among other groups.

    Michiaki Hirose, president of Tokyo Gas Co., one company considering joining in the project, says, "We want to do what we can for Fukushima. If it is economically feasible we will go ahead with the project."

    According to Japan's New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization, over the 10 years leading up to fiscal 2014, the number of wind turbines in Japan grew from 920 to 2,034, with the total power generation from them growing from 920,000 kilowatts to 2.93 million kilowatts. Since 2012 there has been a system for power companies to buy up wind power generated by others at a fixed price.

    However, wind farms over a certain size require an environmental impact assessment to be done beforehand, causing a time delay. There are also cases where local residents conduct protests due to concerns about sound pollution and the effects of wind farms on the environment.

    The Electricity Business Act was amended in 2015 after a series of incidents in Japan of wind turbine blades falling, and from fiscal 2017 utilities will be required to perform regular maintenance checks on their wind turbines.

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