|Blown away: Windmills in Minamiawaji, on the southern edge of Awaji Island in Hyogo Prefecture, overlook the Inland Sea. ERIC JOHNSTON|
Wind power quest faces stability, regulatory hurdles
Like steady breeze and ideal sites, utilities' commitment also eludes
MINAMIAWAJI, Hyogo Pref. — Southern Awaji Island is technically in Hyogo Prefecture. But its location — within sight of Shikoku just across the Inland Sea — bright sunshine, and strong gusting winds give it the feel of a subtropical island.
The breezes are especially important, because the city of Minamiawaji, the main population center, is home to a wind farm that sits on a hilly area between 118 and 225 meters above sea level. Fifteen turbines of 2,500 kw each provide 37,500 kw. They generate enough power for 12,000 households — two-thirds of Minamiawaji's total.
"Each turbine is 129 meters high, with a diameter of 88 meters, the largest in Japan," said Yoshiaki Shibata of CEF Minamiawaji Wind Farm Corp., the Nemuro-based company in charge of the project.