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World News | May 2012

Japan to build largest power plant with floating windmills

Japan is preparing to bolt turbines onto barges and build the world’s largest commercial power plant using floating windmills in order to cut its reliance on atomic energy. Marubeni Corporation, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Nippon Steel Corporation are among the developers erecting a 16 MW pilot plant off the coast of Fukushima, the site of the nuclear incident that pushed the government to pursue cleaner energy. Japan is trying to elevate its wind-energy capacity from 2,500 MW. Land-based wind-energy development is limited by Japan’s mountains, making offshore developments more viable. The depths of its oceans creates a bigger potential for floating turbine technology, still in its infancy compared with the more conventional method of deploying fixed versions of the machines. The turbines will be mounted on a floating structure that allows them to generate electricity in water depths where bottom-mounted towers cannot be erected easily. The biggest challenge lies in ensuring that the buoyancy mechanisms are stable and getting fixed lines to the sea floor which can be extended to depths of around 700 feet.
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