Japanese Winds Blow Energy Companies into Association

TOKYO, Japan, January 8, 2001 (ENS) - Five companies that generate electricity from wind have formed an industry association in Japan.

The Wind Power Developers Association has been created by Tomen Corp., Marubeni Corp., EcoPower Co., Japan Wind Development Co. and the Electric Power Development Co. The new group aims to develop the market for wind power in Japan and to exchange ideas among the members.

Electric power companies in the country are prioritizing environmentally friendly energy and have announced plans to purchase electricity generated by wind power on a long term basis.


Wind turbines on a Japanese farm (Photos courtesy Japan Wind Development Co. Ltd.)
The association plans to take a leadership position in encouraging further steps by the industry to promote wind power generation and use and invite the participation of other developers to join forces with the association.

The trading house Tomen is one of the largest wind energy generators in the world. Its subsidiary, Tomen Power Japan Corp., will manage the association.

Tomen will build two electricity plants powered by wind in Hokkaido to begin operating next November. The facilities will be located in Hamatonbetsu on the Sea of Okhotsk and Tobetsu on the Sea of Japan. Each plant will each generate three megawatts of electricity for the Hokkaido Electric Power Co.

"The Wind Power Developers Association is a voluntary association whose purpose is to provide a business environment for the healthy growth of the wind power generation business in Japan," the group said in its initial statement.

"The members exchange opinions and promote activities for popularizing wind power generation. In Japan, since the global warming conference in Kyoto in 1997, wind power generation has drawn the attention of not only the electric power industry, but also of people around the nation," the group said.

Japan enacted the New Energy Act in 1997 to promote and govern subsidies to the renewable energy industry. A supra-partisan association of members of the Japanese Diet [parliament], to promote renewable energy has been considering a bill to oblige electric power companies to purchase a fixed amount of wind power generation.


Installation of a wind turbine in Japan
Electric power companies set up a Green Power Fund in October 2000, which will encourage the use of renewables. They have implemented a bidding system for new wind power generation projects.

Japan is the world's fourth largest energy consumer and second largest energy importer after the United States.

Japan lacks significant domestic sources of energy and must import substantial amounts of crude oil, natural gas, and other energy resources, including uranium. According to U.S. Department of Energy figures, in 1998, the country's dependence on imports for primary energy stood at more than 80 percent. Oil provided Japan with 56 percent of its total energy needs, coal 14 percent, nuclear power 14 percent, natural gas 13 percent, hydroelectric power four percent, plus 0.3 percent from geothermal, solar, and wind power sources.

About half of Japan's energy is used by industry, about a quarter by transportation, with nearly all the rest used by the residential, agricultural, and service sectors.