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Japan to Build World's Largest Offshore Wind Farm
January 16, 2013

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Looking to embrace alternative energy in a big way, Japan has announced plans to build the world's biggest offshore wind farm, off the coast of Fukushima, the area devastated by the twin disasters of earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

The Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant is still in critical recovery mode. Fears of another meltdown that happened at the Dai-ichi plant have dampened enthusiasm for nuclear power in Japan, so much so that only two of the country's 54 nuclear power plants are back online.

Construction will begin in July and continue for eight years, by which time builders aim to have built 143 wind turbines on tall platforms stabilized and anchored to the 650-foot-deep continental shelf nine miles off the coast of Fukushima. The turbines and platforms will have extra ballast and support, in light of the area's reputation for experiencing large earthquakes. Japanese teams say that they have already produced computer simulations predicting that the structures will withstand even the largest quakes and tsunamis. The Sendai Earthquake, one of the strongest quakes on record, registered 8.9 on the Richter scale.

The current largest offshore wind farm is the Greater Gabbard, off the coast of Suffolk, in the United Kingdom, which has 140 wind turbines and generates 504 megawatts of power. The U.K. is planning an even larger farm, the London Array in the Thames Estuary, with 175 turbines producing 630 megawatts of power, to be completed later in 2013.

Japanese officials say that the Fukushima wind farm will produce even more power than the London Array. On average, each megawatt of electricity produced can power 1,000 homes.

Fukushima officials also say that they are planning the country's largest solar park, in an effort to make the prefecture energy self-sufficient by 2040.

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