Renewables Update

Japan Deserves Also to Benefit from the « Silent Wind Power Revolution »

6 November 2014 Bernard Chabot, International Consultant and Trainer on Renewable and
Sustainable Energy BCCONSULT, France

There is an ongoing « Silent Wind Power Revolution » [1], consisting in the commercial availability of new models of wind turbines delivering high to very high capacity factors including on light wind speeds areas and comparing well with the potential offshore wind capacity factors. Many advantages result from the use of those new models:

  • More TWh per year delivered per targeted installed GW. Or for a target expressed in TWh/year, less GWs to install, and so reducing the need to build or to reinforce local and transmission electricity grids.
  • Much more areas and sites available to develop new onshore wind projects, including in Japan. Those new models of wind turbines can now deliver competitive kWh from 5 or 6 to 7.5 m/s of average annual wind speed at hub height, and the relevant sites are often nearer the places of electricity consumption and are more easily available for investments from farmers, cooperatives and local communities.
  • Lower cost and lower relevant potential feed-in tariff in light wind speeds areas than with the conventional wind turbines that were optimized for high wind speeds.
  • Easier insertion of wind power in the electricity systems as the number of equivalent hours at full-load is much higher than with conventional wind turbines.

Main wind power markets already benefit from this revolution: in China, in Europe and in the USA, there are now more wind turbines installed in light and medium wind speed areas than on more windy sites. And all major wind turbines manufacturers offer now those new models. One of them has already presented in Tokyo a new model specifically designed for high capacity factors in the Japanese conditions, including being able to resist to specific typhoons, seismic and lightning conditions of Japan which are beyond those of the standard international specifications. Preliminary economic analysis as in [2] shows that the relevant cost of kWh could be very competitive in the Japanese context.

All countries that have decided and implemented ambitious but realistic targets for electricity production from renewables have set up policies and measures that encompass all renewable sources of energy, and particularly including a balanced, ambitious and affordable mix between onshore wind and solar photovoltaic. Japan could also benefit from such policies and measures, and particularly with market regulation and incentives such as advanced feed-in tariffs in favor of those new models of wind turbines of the “silent wind power revolution”.

[1] “Analysis of the “Silent Wind Power Revolution”, and some proposals to benefit from it within a large scale deployment scenario”, WWEA Quarterly Bulletin, Issue 2, June 2014, downloadable HERE.
[2] “Is the Silent Onshore Wind Power Revolution on the Verge to Reach Japan? Analysis of potential technical and economic performance of new wind turbines models designed for specific Japanese condition”, March 3, 2014, downloadable at:

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