Japan is looking to allocate JPY5bn (USD43.4m) from its fiscal year’s supplementary budget to a feasibility study of undersea cables to support Hokkaido’s offshore wind power development, as reported by Nikkei Asia on January 2. The proposal aims to transmit the abundant clean energy from the windy Hokkaido region to electricity-deficient Tokyo. Japan expects Hokkaido to generate up to 14.65m kilowatts (kW) of wind power by 2040, equivalent to around one-third of the nation’s planned wind power capacity by then, according to a scheme released by the economy and infrastructure ministries in 2020.
Japan approved the national renewable energy development plan last October, which aims to include up to 38% renewable energy in its total power output in 2030, doubling from the 2019 level. The country expects hydropower to supply 11% of the electricity consumption by 2030, compared with 14% to 16% from solar energy. However, it requires high-capacity power transmission projects to make use of intermittent clean energies. Organizations for Cross-regional Coordination of Transmission Operators in Japan estimated that a 4m KW transmission line between Hokkaido and Tokyo cost would cost JPY800bn (USD6.94bn) to JPY1.2tr (USD10.4bn), which would not be built up until the 2030s. Nevertheless, the undersea cable is still a cheaper choice for the land-scarce island country compared with transmission lines over land, the development of which is saddled with expensive and time-consuming negotiations.