Fukushima eyes renewable energy

renewable-energy-at-fukushima

Nearly three years since the nuclear disaster, the future of thousands of people forced to leave their homes in Fukushima still hang in the balance.

With lingering fears of radiation fallout and a surging energy bill, Fukushima is intent on going for renewable energy.

During a Community Power Conference held in Fukushima this week, local officials pledged to “make a stride toward the future” by using 100 percent renewable energy by 2040.

Renewable sources currently account for 22 percent of Fukushima’s energy supply.

“Floating offshore wind is a symbol of such a future,” Fukushima governor Yuhei Sato said.

A 2-megawatt offshore wind turbine about 12 miles off Fukushima’s coast began operation in November, while two more 7-megawatt turbines are in the works.

A Renewable Energy Village has also taken root in farmlands contaminated by radiation fallout from the nuclear disaster. The solar power station has 120 solar panels with a capacity to generate 30 kilowatts of power. The community-run project in the city of Minamisoma features the idea of “solar sharing” by growing crops beneath raised solar panels which could help farming communities to restart agriculture.

“The Japanese government is very much negative,” said Tetsunari Iida, director of the Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies in Japan. “Local governments like the Fukushima Prefecture or the Tokyo metropolitan government are much more active, more progressive compared to the national government, which is occupied by the industry people.”

The nuclear issue looms large over the Tokyo gubernatorial race.

Former Japanese Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa, who is running for Tokyo governor on an anti-nuclear platform, said, “The myth that nuclear power is clean and safe has collapsed.”

“Tokyo is shoving nuclear power plants and nuclear waste to other regions, while enjoying the convenience of electricity as a big consumer,” he said.

“We don’t even have a place to store nuclear waste. Without that, restarting the plants would be a crime against future generations.”

By Maesie Bertumen

Image: DB’s travels/Flickr