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Softbank in 1GW pitch to become Japan's biggest wind operator

Japanese mobile phone group Softbank is planning to build wind farms with up to 1GW of capacity on Hokkaido island, as the company expands its investments in renewable energy.

The telecoms firm presented its plans to local officials on the northern Japanese island on 1 July, but has not yet received approval for the project.

The plants could require 500 turbines and turn Softbank into the country’s biggest wind-power operator.

It is also seeking approval to build a 48MW wind project in Shimane prefecture in southern Japan, a spokesman tells Recharge.

Softbank has already invested significantly in solar power after chief executive Masayoshi Son declared his support for a new direction in energy supply in Japan following the Fukushima nuclear crisis.

He has promised to invest up to 20bn ($255m) yen in renewables and backed the creation of a new renewable energy foundation.

Japan had 2.5GW of installed wind power capacity at the end of March 2012. Construction of new projects has slowed in the past two years after a change to government incentives.

The industry is expected to pick up momentum following the introduction of new feed-in tariffs on 1 July. However, cumbersome laws on environmental impact assessments are likely to drag out the time required for installation of new projects.

Eurus is currently Japan's biggest wind-owner, with 556MW in operation in its domestic market.