Business / Economy

GE bets big on wind power in Japan

Bloomberg

General Electric Co. considers Japan ripe for new investment in wind power as the resource-poor country diversifies energy supply in light of the Fukushima disaster.

The U.S. company has developed a 2.85-megawatt turbine for Japan that can withstand conditions unique to the country. It can survive typhoon-strength winds, turbulent conditions and lighting strikes common in the nation, the company says.

“As you look at Japan and how we think about the energy mix in Japan, overall energy diversity is key,” Anne McEntee, chief executive officer of renewable energy at GE Power & Water, said at a conference Wednesday in Tokyo where she outlined the company’s approach to Japan.

While Japan is burning more coal and natural gas to make up for the loss of nuclear power, McEntee said there’s more potential to develop clean energy.

“We see an opportunity, and that opportunity is in renewables” that require no fuels and cause no carbon dioxide emissions, she said.

GE and its rivals are pushing Japan to stimulate the wind industry, which has received little new investment even though incentives for the technology were introduced in July 2012 in the feed-in tariff system. Solar power by contrast has boomed.

GE has the second-largest share of the Japanese market in terms of cumulative installed wind capacity, after Vestas Wind Systems A/S, a Danish turbine maker, according to the Japan Wind Power Association. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., which announced an offshore wind venture with Vestas in September, ranks third.

Solar accounted for 97 percent of added renewable capacity since the feed-in tariff program began. Wind supplied 1.1 percent, according to government data released Feb. 21.

Wind development is being held up by requirements to conduct environmental impact assessments, Tetsuro Nagata, president of the wind association, said earlier this year. The requirement took effect three months after the incentive program’s beginning.

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