While Japan’s Nukes sputter, Wind Turbines keep spinning

March 19, 2011

Kamisu wind farm just 300 km (180 miles) from the earthquake epicenter

Grist reports:

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.

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17 Responses to “While Japan’s Nukes sputter, Wind Turbines keep spinning”

  1. neilrieck Says:

    People wishing to investigate further should visit these two web sites.
    USA: http://www.awea.org/
    Canada: http://www.canwea.ca/index_e.php

    Just for fun, record the coordinates of sites near you, then paste those coordinates into http://maps.google.com to see what they look like.

    For example, here is a link for 66 turbines (both sides of the road) running 20 miles in rural Southern Ontario, Canada.

    http://maps.google.ca/maps?f=q&source=embed&hl=en&geocode=&q=Tiverton,+Ontario&sll=49.891235,-97.15369&sspn=37.462587,78.310547&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Tiverton,+Bruce+County,+Ontario&layer=c&cbll=44.273039,-81.451738&panoid=ZyOKZUmkL4Y5JLMJ7D55ng&cbp=12,252.62,,0,-4.33&ll=44.273039,-81.451738&spn=0.017392,0.109177&z=14

  2. BlueRock Says:

    I saw this earlier. What a sales pitch for renewables in comparison to the sales nightmare that has been produced for the nuke propaganda department.

    > 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…

    They’re impressive – but there are 7 MW monsters already on the market, 10 MW behemoths on the way… and the Spanish are researching 15 frickin’ MW leviathans!

  3. BlueRock Says:

    P.S. Peter, if you’ve not seen it before, a fascinating real-time display of solar output in Germany: http://www.sma.de/en/news-information/pv-electricity-produced-in-germany.html – it hit 8.7 GW peak output today. Not bad for mid-March.

    It’ll soon be blasting past 10 GW as summer arrives and more solar gets deployed. They’ve also announced a very strong response to the Japanese disaster:

    * Germany throws the switch on seven aging nuclear reactors – http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,14924547,00.html

    They’re schooling the rest of us. Here in the UK, our [redacted expletive] politicians are manipulating the markets to favour nukes and simultaneously gutting FITs for solar.

    • neilrieck Says:

      These solar graphs are impressive but the asterisk indicates they are only projections. IMHO, wind power is the most practical cousin to hydro electric power. Why? Both Wind and Hydro can generate power at night as well on cloudy days. Now before everyone jumps all over my comment, let me point out that there are many places on planet Earth where the wind never stops, and many of those places are in the USA.

      Click this link:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind_power_in_the_United_States

      then click on the first graph:

      The best wind is Blue (7) Red (6) and Purple (5)

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_wind_farms_in_the_United_States

      • BlueRock Says:

        > These solar graphs are impressive but the asterisk indicates they are only projections.

        Yes, it is projected current output. It may not be 100% accurate but does provide a good estimation of what is happening right now in Germany.

        My projection that they would soon break 10 GW happened quicker than expected – they hit 10.6 GW today!

        The strength of renewables is in the complete portfolio and how they compliment each other. E.g. wind is often stronger in the winter when sun is at is weakest. On a hot, sunny, summer day wind is often low.

        Build ’em all, build ’em now!

  4. mspelto Says:

    Thanks for pointing this out, it is a great time for some emphasis on the positives of wind. There have been complaints a plenty recently about localized flicker and noise. Let’s put those in perspective. Time for a crock of the week maybe on those.


  5. […] now know that resilient, decentralized wind power successfully road out the disastrous earthquake and tsunami that crippled Japan’s power grid. But it turns out that, even before the […]


  6. […] seen how Japan’s wind turbines successfully road out the historic earthquake and tsunami, and kept on delivering power during the national crisis that followed, while […]


  7. […] the Earthquake/tsunami closed down all of Japan’s nuclear power plants, I reported that wind was one of the only remaining reliable, tsunami proof sources of […]


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