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Ministry relaxes wind power rules

The Environment Ministry has decided to ease restrictions on wind power generation within national parks and promote clean energy supplies in an effort to combat global warming, government officials said Friday.

To date, the ministry has given permission for a limited number of wind power projects inside national parks, but has applied strict regulatory criteria under the National Parks Law to keep natural landscapes intact and ensure wild fowl do not accidentally hit the wind turbines.

The ministry will earmark a total of 3 billion yen for a three-year period from fiscal 2007--1 billion yen per year--to study the most effective ways to prevent "bird strike" cases at wind power facilities.

Specifically, it will look into possibilities for early detection of approaching migratory birds so wind turbine operations can be halted, and painting wind power facilities with colors that keep birds away. The ministry also will study whether nighttime illumination is effective in saving birds from fatal collisions with the wind turbines.

The ministry is to prepare manuals for evaluating wind power facilities' impact on natural landscapes in national parks at the same time as encouraging electric power utilities to install wind power units in national parks.

According to the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy, there are about 1,000 wind power units across the country--mostly along the coast.

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To date, the ministry has given permission for a limited number of wind power projects inside national parks, but has applied strict regulatory criteria under the National Parks Law to keep natural landscapes intact and ensure wild fowl do not accidentally hit the wind turbines.

The ministry will earmark a total of 3 billion yen for a three-year period from fiscal 2007--1 billion yen per year--to study the most effective ways to prevent "bird strike" cases at wind power facilities.

Specifically, it will look into possibilities for early detection of approaching migratory birds so wind turbine operations can be halted, and painting wind power facilities with colors that keep birds away. The ministry also will study whether nighttime illumination is effective in saving birds from fatal collisions with the wind turbines.

The ministry is to prepare manuals for evaluating wind power facilities' impact on natural landscapes in national parks at the same time as encouraging electric power utilities to install wind power units in national parks.

According to the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy, there are about 1,000 wind power units across the country--mostly along the coast.

Wind power facilities require not only strong winds but also vast tracts of land. But it is becoming increasingly difficult to find locations within private and municipal properties that are suitable for wind power generation.

The agency therefore welcomed the Environment Ministry's policy change. A senior official of the agency said: "Many scenic spots along the coastline are designated as national parks. But it's also true that those locations are a perfect fit for wind power generation because of the high winds there."

Construction of buildings and other facilities within national parks is strictly controlled, with five levels of regulation ranging from the most restrictive "special preserves" to "ordinary areas."

In 2004, the ministry imposed a new set of height-based restrictions, prohibiting wind power units that appear to rise above the peaks of the mountains when viewed from certain observation points.

So far, the ministry has permitted only one wind power project since the enforcement of the new criteria. The project is under construction inside Aso-Kuju National Park in Kumamoto Prefecture.

Ahead of the introduction of the new rules, 13 wind power units had been built inside national parks. Except for a 500-kilowatt facility on Hachijojima island, south of Tokyo, all of them are small in size, generating enough electricity for lavatories, among other eco-friendly facilities.


Source: http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy...

AUG 5 2006
http://www.windaction.org/posts/3820-ministry-relaxes-wind-power-rules
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