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Economic feasibility of tidal stream and wave power in post-Fukushima Japan

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Volume 114, Part A, December 2017, Pages 32–45

Wave and Tidal Resource Characterization

Edited By Simon P. Neill, Zhaoqing Yang and Reza Hashemi


Tidal current data and wave buoy measurements throughout Japan are utilized.

Energy generated by tidal stream turbines and wave energy converters is calculated.

In heavily populated western Japan, tidal stream turbines are very economical.

In northern Japan, wave energy farms can break even without subsidies.

Developing ocean energy resources reduces emissions and promotes energy independence.


Since the Fukushima nuclear disaster of 2011, Japan has relied on imported fossil fuels for electricity generation, but is quickly increasing its share of renewable energy sources. Recent development has been in biomass, geothermal, wind, and solar PV, though little attention has been given to the potential of marine energy resources. The present paper carries out an analysis of the economic viability of this resource using real wave and tidal current data. The results show that marine energy technologies could be cost-effective at several locations in Japan, and can pragmatically add reliable and predictable power to the energy generation mix. Deployed in straits with strong tidal flows near large population centers in western Japan, SeaGen and Verdant-type tidal turbines are shown to operate at costs far below the current price of electricity in the country. In northern Japan, the Aquabuoy, Pelamis, WaveDragon, and Guarda-type Oscillating Water Column Wave Energy Converters show costs near the current price of electricity. Even though Aquabuoy and Pelamis are now defunct, it is likely that in the future new generation wave energy converters would be able to produce electricity at even lower costs and further enhance the practicality of developing wave power in northern Japan.


  • Japan;
  • Tidal current;
  • Wave;
  • Cost;
  • Electricity price;
  • Capacity factor

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