The government will promote offshore renewables, including wave energy and wind power, as part of its efforts to curtail Japan’s reliance on nuclear plants.
Locations for demonstration tests will be chosen by the end of March 2014.
“We will work as one to explore the seas,” Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda told a meeting of the Headquarters for Ocean Policy held in the Diet building on May 25. “Efforts to promote offshore renewables will lay the foundation for a society with new sources of energy.”
Other ocean energy technologies concern tidal energy and ocean thermal energy conversion.
To encourage private companies to initiate renewable-energy projects, the government plans to select ocean areas for tests on offshore wind farms and other energies and install undersea cables and electric substation equipment.
In addition, the government will coordinate such projects with officials in the fishery and shipping industries.
In the past, businesses were forced to act on their own to iron out differences with those industries to move forward on research on offshore renewables. Bureaucratic red tape has also dampened enthusiasm for such projects by businesses and universities.
The government will also consider writing legislation to make clear the rules on the use of marine areas to ensure the safety of offshore facilities and generators.
Noda’s two pet projects are development of offshore renewables and space exploration. He ordered the establishment of task forces for the promotion of offshore energies in October last year.
Experts say Japan, surrounded by the ocean, could build wind farms capable of generating power equivalent to that created by dozens of nuclear reactors.
“The space for development in the sea is way broader than in the land,” a senior industry ministry official said.
Offshore wind power is also included in the feed-in tariff system, a program that will start in July that guarantees renewable energy producers a fixed price for renewable energy generation.
But Japan lags behind European countries in terms of technologies needed to develop offshore renewable energies. Japan will also have to reduce costs before it can test the offshore projects.
(This article was written by Toru Nakagawa and Satoshi Okamoto.)
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