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Japanese Consumers to Gain More Renewable Energy Options by 2020

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Artist’s rendition of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Stadium.

Tokyo has been picked as the location of the 2020 Summer Olympics, and the city hopes to showcase its commitment to renewable energy as part of the fanfare. If Tokyo’s plans move ahead on schedule, Japanese consumers will get 20% of their electricity from renewable sources including solar, hydrogen fuel cells, and hydropower.

As the largest city in Japan, Tokyo consumes 10% of the entire nation’s energy. Consumers used approximately 80,000 GWh of electricity during 2012, and only 6% came from renewable sources. Most of that power came from hydropower plants located outside city limits. Tokyo has little land space available for wind or solar farms, so their plans center around distributed generation.

In order to meet their goals, Tokyo will install 1 GW of photovoltaic systems and 600 MW of co-generation system capacity by 2024, as well as 22 MW of PV on city buildings by 2020.

In order to efficiently design the solar generation systems, the city has put together a map that displays  the solar energy potential for buildings and homes in Tokyo. Called the Tokyo Solar Register, it uses data on roof-top space and tilt, daily solar insolation, and the degree to which the area is shaded in order to calculate how large the system needs to be, in terms of kW, and how much power will be generated, in kWh, for each building.

The government plans to help consumers who cannot afford expensive solar systems by allowing them to rent their roof space to developers.

Tokyo’s water department will also use solar to power their system, which uses 800 GWh of energy every year and accounts for 1% of the city’s total energy usage. They will also use hydropower systems that use the energy of the water as it flows through pipelines.

The third and final dimension of the plan promotes fuel-cell technology. The government will install 150,000 residential fuel-cell systems, build 35 hydrogen stations, and order 6,000 fuel-cell cars and 100 buses.

The governor hopes that all Olympic athletes visiting in 2020 will get all their electricity from renewable, local sources.

If it pans out, it may be the first time the Olympics has ever positively affected the host city.

Image (c) Zaha Hadid Architects

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