Wind Power Flies High in Japan

A startling outcome of the greatJapanese earthquake is the public relations collapse of nuclear energy and themirrored public relations coup won by wind energy.  Wind energy was totally unaffected even insmall detail and can now operate full out to step into the present productionshortfall.

It is also likely to materiallyexpand to make up the production shortfall brought on by the forced closure of Fukushima, simply becauseit can do so quickly.  That is alwaysbeyond the capability of large power plants whether nuclear, coal, or evengeothermal.

The take home lesson from Fukushima is that largecentral power plants are terribly vulnerable to a single event.

We have also learned thatfacilities not designed to withstand a once in a thousand year event has a40/1000 chance of disaster over a forty year lifespan.  A .04 chance is significantly more seriousand likely that a .001 chance.  Thattsunami was predictable as are similar tsunamis anywhere along the ring offire. 

That is was not properly designedfor is another example of expediency overriding good engineering sense by decisionmakers who knew they would likely never be around to answer to it all.

Battle-proof Wind Farms Survive Japan's Trial by Fire

Executive Director, GCCA
Posted: March 17, 2011 02:34 PM

As the world collectively holds its breath to see how the Fukushima crisis playsout (the quote of the day has got to be: "Theworst-case scenario doesn't bear mentioning and the best-case scenario keepsgetting worse...") there's a positive story which is not yet beingreported.

Despite assertions by its detractors that wind energy would not survive anearthquake or tsunami the Japanese wind industry is still functioning andhelping to keep the lights on during the Fuksuhima crisis.
Wind Farm in Japanby rjzii

Colleagues and I have been directly corresponding with Yoshinori Uedaleader of the International Committee of the Japan Wind Power Association &Japan Wind Energy Association, and according to Ueda there has been no windfacility damage reported by any association members, from either the earthquakeor the tsunami. Even the Kamisu semi-offshore wind farm, located about 300kmfrom the epicenter of the quake, survived. Its anti-earthquake "battleproof design" came through with flying colors.

Mr. Ueda confirms that most Japanese wind turbines are fullyoperational. Indeed, he says that electric companies have asked wind farmowners to step up operations as much as possible in order to make up forshortages in the eastern part of the country:

Eurus Energy Japansays that 174.9MW with eight wind farms (64% of their total capacity with 11wind 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 causedby 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 becauseit is locate in the mountains about 900m high from sea level.

The largest wind farm operator in Japan, Eurus Energy with about 22% ofall wind turbines in Japan, is a subsidiary of Tokyo Electric Company (TEPCO)which operates the Fukushima nuclear facility. Right now, it is likely thecompany is very happy about its diversified portfolio:

While shares in the Tokyostock market have fallen during the crisis, the stock price of Japan WindDevelopment Co. Ltd. has risen from 31,500 yen on 11 March to 47,800 yen on 16March.

Japan’s wind farms save its ass while nuclearplants founder

18 MAR 2011 10:54 AM

Wind turbine in Yokohama, JapanPhoto: shibuya246IfJapan's wind turbines were to get a new theme song, it would be Wagner's"Ride of theValkyries", and it would ring out from the hills upon which they standtriumphantly, unscathed by the the country's earthquake/tsunami double whammy,lifting their skinny, still-turning blades likeantennas to heaven.

While Japan'swater-dependent nuclear power plants suck and wheeze and spew radioactivesteam, "there has been no wind facility damage reported by any [Japan WindEnergy Association] members, from either the earthquake or thetsunami," saysassociation head Yoshinori Ueda.

Even the country's totally badass Kamisuoffshore wind farm, with its giant 2 MW turbines with blades bigas the wings on a jumbo jet, and only 186 miles from the epicenter of thelargest quake ever recorded in Japan, survived without a hiccup thanks to its"battle proof design." As a result, the nation's electric companieshave asked all of its wind farms to increase power production to maximum, inorder to make up for the shortfalls brought about by the failure of certainother aging, non-resilient 20th-century technologies.

Unlike conventional power plants, wind turbines don't have to besituated close to sources of water (always a liability), and their simplicitymeans fewer potential points of failure.

Bonus: when they break down, no one has to givetheir life to keep them from turning one of the world's most denselypopulated countries into a radioactive hellscape!

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