While unquestionably tragic, the meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in March 2011 has Japan reconsidering previously feared forms of renewable energy. Long-neglected geothermal energy is now being considered thanks to the country’s massive energy shortage.
Even onsen (hot spring) resorts, major Japanese tourist attractions, once vehemently against the use of geothermal power, are slowly becoming supporters.
The city of Tsuchiyu, nine miles southwest of Fukushima, is attempting to harness Japan’s large subterranean reserves of volcanic water. The city’s goal is to generate 250 kilowatts of electricity by spring 2014, representing 25% of the city’s total needs.
Japan has revised its energy policy as a direct of the nuclear disaster and plans for renewable energy to account for 30% of the country’s total energy mix. This plan increases Japan’s use of renewable energy by 8 times the level in 2010, making this a significant step in the quest for sustainability. Japan has a long term strategy of investing $476 billion in renewable energy over the next 20 years. Unfortunately, until then, Japan will import massive quantities of fossil fuels.
As part of the long term vision, the commercial sector is encouraged to invest in a new tariff that will allow the sale of above-market-price renewable energy.
Japanese companies involved in the geothermal effort include Marubeni Corp. and Sumitomo Corp. Marubeni is slated to build the country’s largest solar energy complex by 2014. Sumitomo plans to invest in wind farms and biomass plants, expecting profits to triple in the next 3 years.
By 2030, Japan plans to increase the share of geothermal energy to 3.88 million kilowatts, a goal that is lofty but not unachievable. For success, regulators, developers, and consumers must be in alignment to achieve this goal.
Japan’s quest for geothermal power will come full circle as profits from the Tsuchiya geothermal endeavor will be used to rebuild hotels that were severely damaged or destroyed during the
[via Yahoo! News]