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Japan nuclear crisis highlights safety of wind power

Part of a Japanese
wind farm
Tokyo, Japan — ESI-AFRICA.COM — 14 April 2011 – Japan’s severe nuclear crisis in the wake of last month’s devastating earthquake and tsunami, is pushing wind power to the forefront as a safer and more reliable alternative to meet the country’s future energy requirements.

Expressing this opinion, Japanese industry observers say the country’s government, electricity sector and heavy industries have traditionally favoured nuclear power over renewable energy, but given the existing nuclear chaos, some of them are now saying that wind will become the next great renewable alternative, and that Japan’s energy map is going to be re-arranged.

Because 80% of Japan’s wind infrastructure survived last month’s 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami, industry participants expect that the government will step up future incentives to develop the sector, which has so far received little support.

World Wind Energy Association secretary-general Stefan Gsänger agrees. “Given the wind industry’s proven reliability, we are hoping the government is going to increase its support for the technology, in addition to other renewable methods such as solar and bio-energy, which are much safer for the population,” he says.

In a statement released after the accident, Japan’s Wind Power Association announced that most of the country’s wind farms had  survived the disaster, thanks to efficient anti-seismic technology. It boasted that the Kamisu offshore wind farm, located 300km from the quake’s epicenter, became the world’s first wind farm to survive a 5m tsunami.

Power transmission lines and other infrastructure were damaged, however, preventing some of the wind turbines’ energy from reaching the grid. How much of this energy was actually lost is unclear as exact statistics cannot be procured at this stage.