METI seeks Japan RE budget boost

Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) has filed a request for ¥198.1bn ($2bn) to support the development of renewable energy next year, up 61.6% from 2013’s budget.

The ministry asked for ¥3.19bn to fund offshore wind R&D. It also filed for ¥31bn to fund research on floating offshore wind technologies, up from ¥9.5bn this year.

In July, a consortium led by METI, Marubeni and the University of Tokyo deployed a 2MW Hitachi floating turbine 20km off the coast of Fukushima prefecture to test floating wind systems over a five-year period.

METI has asked for ¥46.2bn to upgrade the national grid so it can accommodate more renewables, as well as ¥25bn to finance the expansion of the grid on the island of Hokkaido and Japan’s Tohoku region.

It wants to establish a demonstration project in the northern part of the country to highlight key technical issues in easing obstacles to bringing more renewable resources such as wind power into the regional grid.

METI has also requested ¥35.6bn, from ¥21.6bn a year earlier, to expedite environmental assessments for renewable energy projects.

Japanese wind industry officials frequently blame lengthy environmental assessments for holding back the rapid development of projects.

The ministry also asked for ¥260m to research the effects of natural disasters such as earthquakes on renewable energy installations.