Toyama: Town in Japan Hopes New Wind Turbines Generate Tourism

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A self-elevating platform (SEP) vessel is being used to erect a wind turbine off the coast of Nyuzen, Toyama Prefecture, in May.

NYUZEN, Toyama — Three massive offshore wind turbines, which were recently erected off the coast of Nyuzen, Toyama Prefecture, have been attracting attention from interested locals and visitors alike. Town officials hope to turn the green energy generators into a new tourist attraction.

The wind turbines are expected to start operating in September.

“I was shocked to see how big the ship is,” said a man, who lives in the neighborhood, at the end of May. “People are coming here to see that. Usually, there aren’t that many people around here.”

Set up off the coast was a self-elevating platform (SEP) vessel. Tokyo-based Shimizu Corp. spent about ¥50 billion building the vessel, which measures 142 meters in length by 50 meters in width and has a crane that can lift up to 2,500 tons.

The SEP vessel was used for the first time in the foundation of the offshore wind turbines that began in April.

When the vessel was there, many visitors gathered along the coast to hold up their smart phones and look at the turbines. Some of the visitors’ cars had license plates from outside the prefecture.

Operations to start soon

The offshore wind power generation project is headed by Nyuzen Marine Wind LLC, which has investments from Akita-based Venti Japan Inc., Tokyo-based JFE Engineering Corp. and Toyama-based Hokuriku Electric Power Co. Shimizu is in charge of constructing the wind turbines. It is Japan’s first offshore wind power generation project undertaken by the private sector in general waters. The cost of construction, which was completed June 4, totaled about ¥6 billion.

Two of the three wind turbines were built about 700 meters off the coast while the third was built about 900 meters offshore. With each turbine generating 3,000 kW, the three turbines will be able to supply electricity to about 3,600 households. All the generated electricity will be sold to Hokuriku Electric Power Transmission & Distribution Co. in line with a system to purchase renewable energy at fixed prices. After conducting various tests, operators aim to start running them in September.

The portion of the wind turbines that sticks out of the water measures 152 meters, with blades measuring 133 meters in diameter.

“The town has high expectations for the wind turbines, so we carried out the project with the hope that it will contribute to developing the town further,” said Venti Japan President Hiroyuki Sato.

The turbines can be viewed especially well from an administrative office in the Yokoyama district in Nyuzen.

“We have received inquiries from people both in and out of the prefecture, saying they want to see the [SEP] vessel,” said an official of the town’s tourism and industry department. “The vessel is gone now that construction is completed, but this is the only area in the Hokuriku region where people can see offshore wind turbines. I hope people will continue to pay attention to them.”