Japanese energy goals blowing in the offshore wind

Japan’s Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, Hiroshi KajiyamaJapan’s Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Hiroshi Kajiyama this week announced ambitious plans to transform the Japanese energy landscape by quadrupling the country’s offshore wind generation capacity by 2040. If successful, this would mean generating as much as 45 gigawatts a year by 2040, enough to satisfy half of Japanese energy requirements.

The country boasts the world’s largest economy after the US and China, but it is currently the least self-sufficient in terms of natural resources of the top ten OECD nations. A major shift to offshore wind is seen as a win-win for the Japanese energy sector which has long been keen to shake off dependence upon expensive carbon-intense foreign energy imports. The move would also help its shift towards clean-energy sustainability.

The offshore wind industry has come a long way since its inception in Denmark in the 1990s. Over the last thirty years, costs have fallen so sharply that offshore wind now compares favorably with alternative energy sources. For a population-dense country like Japan where the lack of available space makes onshore wind and solar unviable and where opposition to nuclear power remains widespread following the 2011 Fukushima disaster, offshore wind is now seen as the best way for Japanese energy providers to help Tokyo achieve its lofty ambition of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is actively encouraging green tech investments to support the offshore wind sector’s growth. “Offshore wind holds the key” he says, and his government has proposed more than $19 billion to stimulate innovation of new technologies in the sector. “We expect to attract investment from companies both inside and outside of Japan to create a new industry.”