In the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor disaster, the Japanese government has opted to build the world’s largest offshore wind farm.
As you may remember, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami hit the eastern coast of Japan in 2011, destroying the nuclear power plant that lay on the coast of Japan’s Futaba District of Fukushima Prefecture. The resulting meltdown immediately spread radioactivity into the towns of Okuma and Futaba and the surrounding areas. In the aftermath, the Japanese government has begun to turn away from nuclear power, which powers a great deal of the country, and is focusing its efforts to develop more renewable energy such as wind, geothermal and solar.
To that end, the country plans to build 143 wind turbines offshore, producing a gigawatt of power, or about 21 percent of the total energy that was produced from the now-defunct nuclear power plant. That is still twice the power of the largest offshore wind farm in the world today, the Greater Gabbard wind farm in the U.K., which produces 504 megawatts with 140 turbines. It’s enough energy to power nearly a million homes.
Instead of each individual turbine being anchored to the ocean floor, the contraptions will float on steel frames that are anchored to the continental shelf — basically an anchored raft. Ballast will keep them standing straight. Each 2-megawatt turbines will stand about 656 feet high.
Project manager Takeshi Ishihara of the University of Tokyo told New Scientist magazine that the wind farm will be designed with major earthquakes and tsunamis in mind. Wind farms actually have a good record when it comes to tsunamis — the Kamisu wind farm survived the earthquake relatively unscathed. He added that it should have little effect on the local fishing industry — if anything it could even be beneficial.
Much of the transmission infrastructure for delivering electricity to customers is already at the site, where the nuclear plant was located, although an underwater cable will have to be built to transmit the offshore wind power to onshore electrical lines. The project should be done by 2020.
The biggest snag will be funding the project — it’s not clear that it will get all the money it needs to be built. Even so, there are plans for a large solar park in the prefecture as well, and the country as a whole has put $16.3 billion into renewable energy projects in 2012 alone, according to the Financial Times.
via New Scientist
Credit: Matthias Kulka/Corbis