Japan’s hunt for alternative energy sources

Volcanoes, water, sun, wind: alternative energy sources are top of the agenda in Japan as the popularity of nuclear power dwindles.

Volcanoes, water, sun, wind: alternative energy sources are top of the agenda in Japan as the popularity of nuclear power dwindles.

A wind farm in Kamisu City, Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan Photo: BLOOMBERG

Since the March 11 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster, a growing number of projects have been focusing on generating power from alternative, sustainable and environmentally-friendly resources.

The last act of the former prime minister Naoto Kan before his departure at the end of last month was the passing of a bill to promote renewable energy such as wind, solar and geothermal.

The new law will force power utilities to buy power generated by renewable sources at fixed prices, while allowing them to pass on extra costs to consumers.

Solar power is top of the list, with a string of newly opened and developing projects, such as Kansai Electric Power Co’s new 10 megawatt solar power plant which has just started commercial operations in Sakai City, Osaka.

The same utility company, which provides electricity to western Japan, plans to build another 18-megawatt solar plant in conjunction with Sharp Corp.

Last month also saw the opening of another mega solar power plant located in Kawasaki City, on the outskirts of Tokyo, where nearly 38,000 solar panels are generating power to more than 2,000 homes.

Hydro power and wind power are other sources of renewable energy which both the government and industries are increasingly tapping into in a bid to help power resources-poor Japan.

Another key area that is being tapped for greater development in the future is the source of the very force which caused the March 11 earthquake – Japan’s seismic activities, in the form of geothermal power.

Geothermal currently accounts for less than one per cent of the energy mix in Japan, a low figure attributed in part to the high cost of exploration, drilling and plant construction.

The Telegraph


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