Jul 25 2012

Japan Pushes for Renewable Energy Sources After Fukushima Disaster

Published by under Student blog entries

While most of the world has moved on since the catastrophic destruction resulting from last year’s earthquakes and tsunami in Japan, the people of Japan are still suffering in multiple ways. Primarily, the meltdown of the nuclear power plant called Fukushima is still keeping over 70,000 people who lived within 20 km of the plant evacuated. Additionally, there is a growing energy crisis as Japan is turning away from nuclear energy for the time being at least. After the disaster, many questions regarding the safety of nuclear power have been raised and the benefits of renewable energy are becoming more evident.

Before last year’s disaster, about one third of Japan’s energy consumption was generated by nuclear power. Now, due to safety concerns, only two of the nation’s 54 nuclear power plants continue to generate electricity and even these are expected to be shut down as well. Future plans for energy generation included increasing nuclear generation to 40% of total by 2017 and 50% by 2030. In comparison, the United States receives 20% of its energy from nuclear sources. These plans have been altered and Japan’s current Prime Minister has now set multiple goals regarding renewable energy including a goal of solar energy powering 10 million homes by 2020. By 2030 Japan is hoping to generate 53,000 megawatts (MW) using solar power, and dramatic increase from 2010’s total of 3,500 MW.

Solar Panels on Rooftop in Tokyo

In the meantime, Japan is attempting to drastically cut energy usage to help make up for the loss of nuclear power generation. For example, to cut energy use from A/C in the warm, humid summer, the government is promoting a program in which office buildings are set to a temperature of 28°C (86°F).  For now, the Japanese are accepting these setbacks as nuclear energy is seen as undesirable now and developing renewable resources is very popular throughout the country. Besides solar power, Japan has the possibility of generating more than 80,000 MW (more than half of the country’s needs) with geothermal energy due to its location on the Pacific’s “Ring of Fire” an area of high volcanic activity. The richest man in Japan, Masayoshi Son has spent millions of his own money to launch a research foundation for renewable energy. Other possible replacements of nuclear energy are wind power (both onshore and off) and Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC). For more information on the benefits of OTEC in Japan, read this: http://coastalenergyandenvironment.web.unc.edu/2012/07/22/otec-the-only-option-for-japan/.

The costs of using nuclear energy were shown in an unfortunate fashion in Japan last year. While the country struggles to meet energy demands now, in the long run, a push for renewable sources will be beneficial to the country. Japan could be the poster child for renewable energy if they follow through on their plans.

References

Lavelle, Marianne. “One Year After Fukushima, Japan Faces Shortages of Energy, Trust.” National Geographic. N.p., 8 Mar. 2012. Web. 24 July 2012.      <http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/energy/2012/03/120309-japan-fukushima-anniversary-energy-shortage/>.

McCutcheon, Chuck. “Energy-Short Japan Eyes Renewable Future, Savings Now.” National Geographic. N.p., 7 July 2011. Web. 24 July 2012. <http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/energy/2011/07/110707-japan-energy-future-after-tsunami/>.

 

 

Comments Off on Japan Pushes for Renewable Energy Sources After Fukushima Disaster




Comments are closed at this time.