While much of the world has moved on from the Fukushima nuclear disaster caused by the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, Japan continues to struggle with its reliance on nuclear power. The Japanese government has just unveiled plans to decrease its dependence on nuclear energy and turn to something far less volatile: wind.
The Japanese Agency for Natural Resources and Energy plans to build what would be the largest offshore wind farm on the planet by 2020. Located near the current site of the Fukushima nuclear plant, the wind farm would feature 143 wind turbines on floating platforms anchored to the sea floor. Once completed, the wind farm would generate up to a gigawatt of power.
Although the first thought such a construct brings to mind might be danger from future tsunamis, the working group behind the plan asserts that safety measures have been implemented to guard against such instances. Project leader Takeshi Ishihara of the University of Tokyo said, "all extreme conditions have been taken into consideration in the design." Of course, Japan's residents have heard these kinds of assurances before regarding TEPCO's power plants, but in this case the good news is that a damaged wind farm would only result in a loss of power, not radioactive waste.
Although some assume the worst is over at Fukushima, just today a new report emerged revealing that fish caught near the plant were contaminated with radiation levels 2,540 times the legal limit. Fish and beef farming from the area have been halted, but some Japanese consumers are still quite wary of the food supply coming from East Japan given the lack of transparency from TEPCO (the operator of the Fukushima nuclear plant) and the Japanese government in the months immediately following the nuclear disaster.
This latest wind farm initiative is part of Japan's overall plan to be completely energy self-sufficient by 2040.