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Special zones eyed for offshore power generation

  • February 20, 2018
  • , The Japan News , 8:33 p.m.
  • English Press

The government intends to designate special zones for promoting offshore wind power generation in an upcoming bill, in a bid to expand renewable energy by encouraging more businesses to enter the wind power generation market, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.


The designation will be made in line with a related basic plan that the government will establish in due course, according to a draft of the bill to be submitted to the current Diet session. Currently, Japan has no unified rules on offshore power generation.


The draft also refers to extending to 30 years the maximum period allowed for operators to generate offshore wind power.


The Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry, the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry and the Cabinet Office are making final preparations to submit the bill to the Diet in early March.


The draft bill authorizes the prime minister to draw up a basic plan to be approved by the Cabinet to develop offshore wind power generation facilities. In accordance with the basic policy, the economy minister and the land minister will designate waters suitable for wind power generation as “promotion zones,” and publicly solicit operators.


The government will look at plans submitted by applicants, select operators based on such factors as power generation costs, and give them permission to install power generation facilities. The selected operators will be allowed to generate electricity for up to 30 years.


At present, offshore wind power operators are required to conform to relevant prefectures’ ordinances concerning the use of general waters. In many cases, the period of the operation is as short as three to five years.


The government aims to significantly extend the period, to make it easier for operators to raise funds and secure earnings.


The revised Port and Harbor Law that came into force in 2016 has established procedures for local governments to make public offerings for offshore wind power generation operators in ports and harbors. For general waters outside ports and harbors, however, prefectural ordinances establish their own rules, setting an obstacle for new entries into the business.


Plans for wind power generation in ports and harbors are under way in six areas, including Kashima Port in Ibaraki Prefecture, but offshore wind power generation is still in a demonstration phase.


The government has set a goal of raising the rate of electricity generated from renewable energy sources from the current 15 percent to 22 to 24 percent in fiscal 2030.


Offshore wind electricity generation makes less noise and has less of an impact on the landscape, and also has a higher power generation capability than onshore wind power generation.


Surrounded by water, Japan has a higher potential for offshore wind energy. The government hopes to use offshore power generation as “a trump card to achieve its renewable energy goal,” a senior land ministry official said.

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