Wind farm is a welcome addition to Japan's energy portfolio
April 21, 2011
Eurus Energy, which is majority owned by crisis-stricken Tokyo Electric Power Corporation (Tepco), has completed a 30MW wind farm in southern Japan as the country races to avoid looming summer power shortages.
The Kunimi-yama wind farm (shown in the above photo) is a welcome addition to both Tepco’s and Japan’s generation portfolio, which was thrown into chaos by the 11 March earthquake and tsunami that caused a radioactive crisis at Tepco’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
The project is located on southern tip of Kyushu, Japan’s third-largest island, and was built 880 metres above sea level along the eastern ridge of Mount Kunimi-yama.
While the site offers strong wind, it also posed enormous challenges for transportation, construction and grid connection, says Eurus.
The Kunimi-yama project uses 15 turbines made by Japan Steel Works, which has delivered about 100 machines to the modest-sized Japanese wind market since it entered the sector in 2006. Eurus has used Vestas turbines in the past.
Eurus is Japan’s largest wind developer, with 2.02GW of capacity spanning Europe (760MW), the US (587MW), Japan (527MW), and Korea (142MW).
The Tokyo-based company is 60% owned by Tepco and 40% by a unit of Toyota.
Eurus is also pushing its way into the solar sector. The company commissioned its first 994kW PV array in South Korea in 2008 and last month acquired the 2.97MW Jindosun array from JA Solar, also in Korea.
It is developing a 45MW PV park in California alongside US partner NRG Energy, which is expected to be finished by June. The $220m project uses Sharp modules, with the electricity to be sold for 20 years to Pacific Gas and Electric.
Having been forced to implement rolling blackouts for two weeks in March, Tepco is scrambling to add generation capacity before the peak-usage summer months.
Over the medium term, much of the slack is likely to be picked up by new gas-fired power plants, though renewables are also expected to benefit.
With 2.3GW of installed wind capacity, Japan’s wind sector is dwarfed by Asian giants China (42.3GW) and India (13.1GW). Japan added just 221MW of wind last year, compared to about 1GW of PV.