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Friday, March 18, 2011

Japan and the Resilience of Wind Power

Although this blog focuses on the United States Offshore Wind industry, things occasionally happen outside of the United States that warrant coverage here. For those of us watching from the safety of the Western Hemisphere, the horrific destruction caused by the earthquakes and tsunami in Japan is simply incomprehensible. And, as if the physical impact of the earthquakes and tsunami weren`t enough, the crisis at the Fukushima Nuclear Plant appears to be getting worse by the hour, and news sources are now reporting that radiation leaks may be severe enough to impact human health and welfare.

According to the World Nuclear Association, Japan's nuclear power plants provide approximately 30% of consumed electricity in Japan. At least 25% of Japan's 55 nuclear reactors have been shut down since the earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011.

As Japan begins the long road of "rebuilding the country from scratch", it is important to highlight the infrastructure that survived the catastrophes.

Amazingly, Yoshinori Ueda, leader of the International Committee of the Japan Wind Power Association & Japan Wind Energy Association has reported that there has been no damage reported at any of Japan's member wind generation plants-- including the Kamisu semi-offshore wind farm. The Kamisu wind farm, which is located approximately 300km from the epicenter of the quake, was designed to withstand earthquakes-- and the merit of that design should plainly be lauded.

According to the Huffington Post's Kelly Rigg, Mr. Ueda has confirmed that the majority of Japanese wind turbines are fully operational and have been asked to increase output to make up for shortages due to the disaster:

Eurus Energy Japan says that 174.9MW with eight wind farms (64% of their total capacity with 11 wind farms in eastern part of Japan) are in operation now. The residual three wind farms (Kamaishi 42.9MW, Takinekoshirai 46MW, Satomi 10.02MW) are stopped due to the grid failure caused by the earthquake and Tsunami. Satomi is to re-start operations in a few days. Kamaishi is notorious for tsunami disaster, but this wind farm is safe because it is locate in the mountains about 900m high from sea level.

The resilience of wind power in the face of incredible natural forces should not be overlooked.

Should you wish to contribute to organizations that are providing much-needed services and assistance to those who have been impacted by the earthquakes and tsunami in Japan, please consider donating to the following organizations:

The Red Cross

Doctors Without Borders