Floating offshore wind turbine demonstration project
To promote a long-term reduction in greenhouse gases, there is an active call for the expansion of renewable energy, including wind energy. Strong winds blow steadily at sea and are suitable for wind farms. Japan is a maritime country with the sixth-largest exclusive economic zone in the world. According to a survey conducted by the Ministry of the Environment in FY 2010, it was estimated that offshore wind energy has the most significant potential for introduction among renewable energies.
There are two types of offshore wind turbines. One is the bottom-fixed type, which is mounted on the sea bed up to about 50m in-depth and the other is the floating type, which floats on the sea like a buoy. Although there have been few demonstrations of the floating wind turbine throughout the world, it is state-of-the-art technology and is expected to be effective in Japan because the shallow water drops off into deep water off its coast. The Ministry of the Environment started the demonstration project in FY2010 to realize and operate the first floating wind turbine in Japan.
Impact upon the environment
Because the floating offshore wind turbine is installed off-land, it is expected to have a minimum impact on scenery and noise, including the low-frequency region. Since this is the first demonstration project of a floating wind turbine, there have been preliminary surveys not only on the site’s meteorological conditions such as wind speed and waves but also on the environmental impact such as water quality, fish, marine mammals, and avian species habitats. The results of this survey, implemented every season in the water around the turbine and Kabashima, confirmed that it had minimal impact on all items surveyed.