TOKYO, May 8, 2010 (Kyodo News International) -- (Editors: ADDING DETAILS) A high-powered government panel has drafted a plan that calls for the establishment by 2020 of massive offshore wind farms capable of producing at least 1,000 megawatts of power, equivalent to roughly 10 typical nuclear power plants in Japan, a source familiar with the plan said Saturday.
The panel -- the comprehensive ocean policy headquarters headed by Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama -- is planning to work out in about one year financing and other specifics of the plan that it hopes will reduce greenhouse gases and reinvigorate the economy of coastal regions, the source said.
Oceanic wind farms require technological expertise including the development of large-scale windmills and specialty vessels for undertaking construction.
The government is hoping they will create a large number of jobs as they are thought to have a far-reaching impact on a broad range of industries from steel to machinery and shipbuilding, the source said.
Officials are hoping to include support for offshore wind farms in the government's growth strategy to be formulated in June, the source said.
Offshore wind farms do not pose typical hazards such as low-frequency noise associated with windmills on the ground but they are thought to cost much more in installation and post technological challenges in working out measures against earthquakes and typhoons.
If they are to be built near a fishing ground, negotiations will also be necessary with local fishermen.
In 2004, Japan's first offshore wind farm started operating in the town of Setana in Hokkaido Prefecture but Japan lags far behind European nations in promoting offshore wind power generation.
The government will likely consider support measures including subsidies or loans for research and development, as well as construction of power generation equipment, the source said.
The government may also envision a market for power companies to buy power from a private business that starts an offshore wind farm, the source said.
Also under consideration is backing laboratories and businesses experimenting power generation from oceanic waves and currents, according to the source.