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Tokyo Report: Wind power projects face foul wind  

An unfavorable wind is starting to blow against wind power generation in Japan.

Wind power is often referred to as an environment-friendly energy source that emits no carbon dioxide. Consequently generators are being built in many parts of Japan.

However, a small but growing number of people, especially intellectuals, are voicing opposition to the construction of wind turbines, complaining, for example, that they ruin beautiful landscapes.

Eurus Energy Holdings Corp., jointly owned by Tokyo Electric Power Co. and Toyota Tsusho Corp., is promoting one of Japan’s largest wind power generation projects in Izumo, Shimane Prefecture, known for its solemn landscapes and the Izumo Taisha grand shrine.

The project has met fierce opposition from Rokusuke Ei and other intellectuals, historians and local people claiming that the presence of many wind turbines would disappoint people who visit the city to enjoy ancient landscapes.

“We have never experienced such strong opposition in the past,” says an official at the Tokyo-based wind electricity supplier.

In Hakodate, Hokkaido, a join pubic-private venture filed for voluntary bankruptcy in 2004, giving up its wind power project after less than two years because the local wind strength was weaker than expected and thus failed to generate the targeted amount of electricity.

The failed project dampened the growing trend toward wind power generation.

Among other unfavorable developments is “bird strike,” or wild birds crashing into wind turbines. A rare white-tailed sea eagle was killed in such a collision in Hokkaido in April, and such accidents involving wild birds are expected at planned wind power facilities in the prefectures of Fukui and Mie.

The Wild Bird Society of Japan therefore asked the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and other concerned parties to review the plans for the two prefectures.

In addition, there are complaints about the noise created by wind power generators, as well as maintenance problems, highlighted when a 4-ton blade fell from a turbine.

According to Kazue Sako, a Kansai Gaidai University professor familiar with wind power generation in Europe which leads the world in the technology, Germany has some 300 opposition groups. The relocation of wind turbines from land to sea is increasing in Europe so as to avoid adverse effects on landscapes and wild birds, Sako says.

The positive assessment of wind power generation is also changing among Europeans, she adds.

In Japan, the installation of wind turbines got fully under way in 1997 and there were 1,050 turbines with a combined power generation capacity of 1.08 million kilowatts at the end of fiscal 2005.

While Japan’s wind power generation ranked eighth in the world at the end of fiscal 2004, the government plans to promote the construction of wind power generators in a bid to boost the nation’s capacity to 3 million kilowatts by the end of fiscal 2010.

The aggressive plan betrays the government’s stance of paying little heed to negative aspects of the technology. (Jiji Press)

mdn.mainichi-msn.co.jp

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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