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Progress with the Development of Ocean Energy in Japan

Progress with the Development of Ocean Energy in Japan

Japan is surrounded on all sides by ocean, yet it has made almost no use of energy generated through the use of tides or wave power. Conversely, Scotland has recently established the European Marine Energy Center in order to perform demonstration experiments on ocean energy at the Orkney Islands in the northern part of the country, which has been agreeing to undertake demonstration experiments on generators from countries all around the world. The wave energy in this region is around 70 kW/m (where m is the length of the coastline), giving it an energy density that is higher than that in Japan’s coastal waters.

In response to this, in Japan the Headquarters for Ocean Policy compiled the Policy on Initiatives to Promote the Use of Maritime Renewable Energy in May 2012, and set out an itinerary for embarking upon demonstration experiments within the country starting from FY2013. This policy contains within it plans related to coordinating with concerned officials from fishing zones and on setting in place laws on the use of the oceans. In Japan the development of ocean energy (Table) is underway, and there are plans to begin demonstration experiments starting in FY2013. The aim is to have the technology that is developed through this be applied not only in Japan, but also worldwide.

Compared to solar power and wind power, wave power—which uses energy from the vertical motion of waves—and tidal power—which uses ocean water currents such as the Kuroshio Current—fluctuate less due to the weather, and so there are hopes that they can serve as a form of base power. The Central Environment Council of the Ministry of the Environment posits that the cumulative amounts that can be introduced by FY2050 is at most 12.03 million kW for wave power and 1.92 million kW for tidal power.

 

Fig.  Global distribution of wave energy (yearly average: kW/m)
Fig.  Global distribution of wave energy (yearly average: kW/m)
Source: Pelamis Wave Power homepage
http://www.pelamiswave.com/global-resource

 

Table:  Ocean energy power generating technology under development

Power generation method Developer / manufacturer Demonstration
candidate sites
Wave power Power buoy method Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding Co., Ltd.
Ocean Power Technologies, etc.
Kozushima
Air turbine method Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Bridge &
Steel Structures Engineering Co., Ltd.
TOA Construction, LTD., etc.
Port of Sakata,
Akita Prefecture
Gyro method Hitachi Zosen Corporation
Gyrodynamics
Minamiizu
Tidal power Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd. Tarama,
Okinawa Prefecture

Source: Proceedings from the 2012 NEDO Symposium on Reporting the Results of Renewable Energies

 

Reference material:
• European Marine Energy Center (EMEC) homepage
(http://www.emec.org.uk/)
• Policy on Initiatives to Promote the Use of Maritime Renewable Energy
(http://www.kantei.go.jp/jp/singi/kaiyou/energy/torikumihousin.pdf)
• Reference materials from the Energy Supply WG, Reference Material 1, Investigative Subcommittee on Measures and Policies from 2013 Onward (11th Meeting), Global Environmental Committee, Central Environment Council
(http://www.env.go.jp/council/06earth/y0613-11.html)
• Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Bridge & Steel Structures Engineering Co., Ltd. press release
(http://www.mhi-bridge-eng.co.jp/topics/news_1115.pdf)
• Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd. press release
(http://www.khi.co.jp/english/pressrelease/detail/20111019_1.html)

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