Japan’s Wind Industry Headed for Boom Akin to Solar, Lawyer Says

Japan’s wind power industry will see a boom in installations similar to an increase in solar capacity in the nation since last year, a lawyer advising domestic and foreign investors said.

Solar and wind have the best chances to expand in Japan’s clean energy market after the government increased subsidies in July, said Arthur Mitchell, senior counselor of White & Case LLP in Tokyo.

“Wind is going to be the next big story,” he said in an interview. “They just don’t want to do bad deals.”

Financing for wind projects has been hampered by difficulties in obtaining enough land for utility-scale turbine farms. The most likely places to site new facilities would be in national parks and offshore, where government permission could unleash large scale construction, Mitchell said.

Japan introduced an incentive program for clean energy in July, which increased the nation’s solar capacity and prompted fresh interest from Softbank Corp. and Orix Corp.

Japan is offering the strongest support for onshore wind market of 21 markets tracked by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Japan doesn’t rank in the top 15, which are dominated by China, the U.S., Germany and Spain.

Mitchell said that investment will flow to the industry once more bankers understand the risks and how to structure loans for wind and solar projects.

“Once the Japanese banks feel comfortable enough to finance, that’s when the mega market will take off,” he said.

With solar, the incentives are strong enough to “get a lot of excitement” from investors, he said. “It also means lots of unqualified people getting into it or trying to getting into it. We will find they can’t really get over to the finishing line.”

Copyright 2013 Bloomberg

Lead image: Wind turbine via Shutterstock

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Jennifer Runyon has been studying and reporting about the world's transition to clean energy since 2007. As editor of the world's largest renewable energy publication, Renewable Energy World, she observed, interviewed experts about, and reported on major clean energy milestones including Germany's explosive growth of solar PV, the formation and development of the U.S. onshore wind industry, the U.K. offshore wind boom, China's solar manufacturing dominance, the rise of energy storage, the changing landscape for utilities and grid operators and much, much, more. Today, in addition to managing content on POWERGRID International, she also serves as the conference advisory committee chair for DISTRIBUTECH, a globally recognized conference for the transmission and distribution industry. You can reach her at Jennifer.Runyon@ClarionEvents.com

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