World’s Largest Offshore Wind Farm to be Built in Japan

japan-fukushima-to-build-worlds-largest-wind-farmIn the wake of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that crippled the country’s nuclear power plants, Japan has decided to go in a completely different direction with its energy policy.

This July, construction will begin on what will become the world’s largest offshore wind farm.  The farm will consist of 143 wind turbines, which in total will generate 1 gigawatt of renewable power for the country.  Construction is expected to be completed by the year 2020.  This farm will be located 16 kilometers off of the coast of Fukushima, which is home to the widely publicized Daiichi nuclear reactor.  This reactor was badly damaged during the tsunami, and is still not functional today.

The tsunami of 2011 forced the shutdown of Japan’s 54 nuclear reactors.  To date, only two have resumed operations.

The construction is not without its risks.  The wind turbines must be built in a way that can withstand future episodes of severe weather and disastrous events, such as typhoons, earthquakes and tsunamis.  Project manager Takeshi Ishihara of the University of Tokyo does not think it will be a problem.  “All extreme conditions have been taken into consideration in the design,” says Ishihara.  Ishihara and his team have conducted extensive testing of their design, including computer simulations, water tank testing, and more.  They believe they have the proper design in place to withstand severe weather and seismic events.

There is also concern among those in the Japanese fishing industry, who have already been hit hard by the nuclear events of 2011.

The wind farm project is part of a broader initiative by Japan to attain energy independence through renewable power sources by the year 2040.  Other wind farm projects are in the works, as well as solar parks and other renewable sources of energy.

The current title of largest offshore wind farm is held by the Greater Gabbard farm, which resides off the coast of Suffolk in the United Kingdom.  This farm has 140 turbines, producing 504 megawatts of power.  Later this year, the London Array offshore wind farm will steal the mantle.   Once completed, 175 turbines will produce 630 megawatts of power from the River Thames Estuary.

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