While Japan’s Nukes sputter, Wind Turbines keep spinning
March 19, 2011
While Japan’s water-dependent nuclear power plants suck and wheeze and spew radioactive steam, “there has been no wind facility damage reported by any [Japan Wind Energy Association] members, from either the earthquake or the tsunami,” says association head Yoshinori Ueda.
Even the country’s totally badass Kamisu offshore wind farm, with its giant 2 MW turbines with blades big as the wings on a jumbo jet, and only 186 miles from the epicenter of the largest quake ever recorded in Japan, survived without a hiccup thanks to its “battle proof design.” As a result, the nation’s electric companies have asked all of its wind farms to increase power production to maximum, in order to make up for the shortfalls brought about by the failure of certain other aging, non-resilient 20th-century technologies.
Bottom line, if Japan had 30 percent of its energy coming from offshore wind, as opposed to nuclear, the tidal wave and earthquake would have caused nary a ripple in power flow.
This resilience of distributed, renewable energy sources was also demonstrated during the great northeast blackout of 2003 in the US. When power went down, a dozen or so east coast nuclear plants tripped offline, necessitating a restart process that had to proceed, slowly and deliberately, over several days while the power was desperately needed. Meanwhile, wind turbines just kept on churning.