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Japan placed 18th in the global rankings for new wind power installations in 2010, creating 221,000 kw of renewable energy capacity compared with 16.5 million kw by China, the world’s front-runner, according to a recent study by an international trade association.

Japan’s total wind-power generating capacity grew about 10 percent from the previous year against 22.5 percent globally as many countries rushed to develop alternative energy sources to fight climate change and reduce their reliance on oil, the Global Wind Energy Council said.

The global output capacity of wind farms increased by 35,800,000 kw to 194,390,000 kw last year, said GWEC.

Japan trailed emerging economies Brazil and Mexico in new installations.

Japanese pundits attribute the low ranking to lack of strong government support.

“Many countries set ambitious targets (for wind power development) and buy electricity generated by wind mills at fixed prices, whereas Japan’s alternative energy purchase program is limited to surpluses of power generated by users of solar panels,” one Japanese expert said.

China overtook the U.S. in new wind installations. The U.S. figure, at 5,115,000 kw, is less than one-third of China’s.

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