Iceland’s ambassador to Japan, Stefan Larus Stefansson, lectured in Tokyo not too long ago about the enormous potential for geothermal energy in Japan. He pointed out that if the geothermal potential of the country could be fully invested in and tapped, about 25 nuclear reactors could be replaced.
He cited his home country’s example in this regard since nearly two-thirds of Iceland’s energy comes from this stable and renewable source of energy. Japan is the world’s third highest in terms of geothermal potential but has not seriously sought its development like it should do.
Interestingly, it’s the country’s attention to nuclear power that has resulted in this disregard to geothermal development. And Japan is far from lacking the technical know-how for geothermal installations. Actually, Japan manufactures the turbines used by Iceland in their geothermal plants. According to the total amount of geothermal power, developing countries such as El Salvador and Kenya have greater geothermal energy sources than Japan.
In Japan’s colder areas, where geothermal potential is quite good, the inhabitants’ normal method of heating their homes is with kerosene. More than 90% of heating for homes in Iceland is obtained through geothermal energy. Technically speaking, moving over to geothermal is not only possible but that Japan also has sufficient natural resources for the move. As a clean source of energy, it could result the reduction of carbon emissions and also job creation. Also, since Japan manufactures geothermal turbines, it could further develop that sector and become one of the leading exporters in the world.
One worry for advocates of geothermal energy is interfering with natural habitats when such sites are situated in national parks. An enormous hot springs in Iceland known as the Blue Lagoon has however demonstrated that this is possible as it still pulls many visitors and also preserves its environmental friendliness. It has even been once said that from 1970, Iceland has made savings of up to $7.2 billion by using geothermal power. A farmer who took care of his farm by using geothermal energy in 1908 is said to be one of the pioneers.
Here’s another good thing about geothermal energy: No fluctuation in energy production! All other forms of renewable energy fluctuate, solar power relies on the sun, which is hidden by clouds or by nightfall, hydroelectric power relies on rainfall, and wind power relies on the wind, which isn’t consistent.
bnjroo I very much agree with you. The 24/7 aspect of geothermal power production makes it a very valuable contributor to the overall energy picture. This is another reason, in a long line of reasons, why more geothermal energy production should be added to the mix.
This article is a good example of people starting to think outside of the box for a change. I am a big proponent of geothermal energy and feel that it is one of our most under utilized resources. Iceland is a model for the world in the area of geothermal development. Japan could really improve their energy situation by considering the development of more geothermal resources.
Richard Fenneman Japan is also perfectly situated on the Ring of Fire. even so, underground heat sinks are also gaining popularity in the not-so-hot zones.
bnjroo Richard Fenneman Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) research is so underfunded. This technology can bring geothermal energy production to most locales worldwide, make a huge difference in the energy picture, and has been largely ignored by government. I don’t understand why.
Richard Fenneman bnjroo as long as money is involved and there isn’t a knife at the throat, then what’s the hurry?
bnjroo Richard Fenneman Its the same old story. When renewable energies were first starting, they could not compete price-wise with traditional energy production. Now that the tech is better and they are becoming competitive, the entrenched industries are really starting to protect their turf. They own most of the politicians and represent a lot of jobs for the politico’s districts. Obama is trying, but it is an uphill battle. Ever listen to FOX news? That is a good example of the fight going on.
Richard Fenneman bnjroo It’s simple Richard – EGS, while expensive to setup is low cost to run from then on – the profit margin for oil companies is at risk and they do not want this resource to be advanced. What big oil wants the house and senate do. Additionally there is some legitimate concern that EGS will cause the same problems that fracking for NG has – earthquakes
DougAlder Richard Fenneman bnjroo I agree with you 100 percent. Until governments get REALLY serious, nothing much is going to change. Unfortunately, history proves that it will take a disaster to effect serious change. The earthquake threat should be minimal because most of the water is returned as condensate to the formation. However, nothing is risk free, including walking across the street.
Richard Fenneman DougAlder bnjroo Our memory of disasters is often shortlived. Remember Chernobyl? Three Mile Island? Fukushima will only last for a little while and then everyone will forget again.
This is a good report-glad to see the Icelandic goverment is encouraging such exchanges-no one competence driven will want too work for magma for any lenght of time.Some problems with domestic power mafias will have too be -exterminated on both sides.Then there is the fuqueing around behind the curtian by dear hillary clinton to be nuetured.
When I broached this approach last year,the info I had via an engineering instructor who had visited Iceland for the porpose(citrica early 1990’s),was that the counter rotating waste steam turbines best suited too the geothermal electric plants,where made in sweden.My notes have being destroyed(deliberatly),and there is a dearth of info online-no suprise given cheveron’s intrests in sucking up goverment monies for geothermal projects,From you I now learn the turbines preffered come from japan-more info would be useful please.
In payment for this-may I offer that,since the early 1980’s,over most of the earth,no power or mechanicals for heating and or cooling buildings have being needed.
A successful plot by oil atom and mortgage/real estate mafias have kept you from hearing of it.See-Passive annual heat storage by John Hait.
I am new to this site and can see why it is called “The Green Optimistic”. Japan has ~50 nuclear power plants with a capacity of ~50,000 MW. I believe the typical cost per MW of geothermal capacity is~5.0mln. Thus the cost to replace 25,000MW of already paid for nuclear power is ~$125 billion. By the way if Japan was able to do this their geothermal capacity would be ~35 times the geothermal electrical capacity of Iceland.
@CHK We care at the point in AGW that cost has (or should have) become irrelevant . We need now to look for solutions that actually work and damn the expense – whatever the expense is it will be far less than the costs of continued global warming.
Alas, your “damn the expense” view is very distant from that of the great majority of the world’s population, which appears to be unwilling to pay even a little extra for carbon-free power. Given this unfortunate reality, it is imperative to find cost-effective means of reducing CO2 (and to put great thought into the most cost-effective ways to achieve the reductions).
Speaking of cheap ways to reduce CO2 emissions, keeping existing nuclear plants open (vs. closing them and replacing them with fossil-fueled generation) actually represents (for Japan) a CO2 emissions option that has a large negative cost, since the fossil plants would be much more expensive, in addition to thei emitting large amounts of CO2 as well as other air pollutants.
It’s also inconceivable that anyone who’s truly as concerned about AGW as you appear to be would propose using all that geothermal generation to replace nuclear plants, as opposed to the fossil plants that provide most of Japan’s power generation. All that expense, to merely trade one non-emitting source for another, when it could have been used to make huge reductions in CO2 emissions.
If AGW is that serious (enough to disregard cost), using geothermal to replace nuclear (as opposed to fossil) would be nothing short of immoral (and insane). Alas, that appears to be what the Japanese people want to do. Let’s hope their leaders ignore them. I hope that you’re right about geothermal, and that Japan develops those sources and uses them to replace coal and oil use for power generation.
I did not explain myself sufficiently – Japan could use Geothermal to replace ALL of their current power production as could Canada with enhanced Geothermal Systems. Japan’s nuclear plants are not safe against tectonic and tsunami disruptions – as we saw recently.
What’s being discussed is traditional geothermal energy extraction which the countries you mention have in abundance. When you add Enhanced Geothermal Energy into the mix it opens up a lot more countries. ftp://ftp2.cits.rncan.gc.ca/pub/geott/ess_pubs/291/291488/of_6914.pdf is a report by the Geological Survey of Canada (a federal department) on the geothermal potewntial in Canada and it is remarkable . 100 geothermal stations would produce all the power required in Canada for the foreseeable future. The potential is there to produce over 1Million times the amount of power all of North America currently uses.