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Gemba says Japan will spend a year drafting new roadmap on energy policy

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I really hope these plans will include geothermal energy generation. There is more than enough geothermal energy in Japan to completely cover base load generation, so theoretically you could be 100% renewable power. I think the problem is that geothermal is extremely expensive upfront (finding wells is expensive). But trading off price for energy security would be well worth it as far as I can tell. Up until now, though, I haven't heard anyone even mention it which makes me think that I'm overlooking something obvious...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

People have mentioned geothermal, but there are big guns lined up against it. Lots of hot springs in Japan, and the people who run those are dead set against anything that might alter the volume or quality of the hot water they use. Also the places were geothermal is most accessible tend to be national parks, and there's strong opposition to plonking ugly huge steam-venting monstrosities in places with nice views.

There are also fears that geothermal can trigger earthquakes. Something Japan certainly doesn't need more of. I'm not sure about this, though; the articles I found outlining the dangers of this explained that the process involved fracturing rocks deep underground and pumping in water under pressure, which I'm pretty sure is not the way geothermal works in Japan.

But the biggest concern in Japan, it seems, is Protecting the Onsen.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I to, at first was a bit disappointed that the entire focus of this new effort seems to be at solar alone. And the cynic in me wanted to say that it was an attempt from politicians to line their pockets with money from other Big Japanese companies, when the donations from nuclear is going away.

However I think( hope) that the answer is a bit less cynical, In fact I think that if Japan is going to invest a lot of money on converting from one source of energy to another, they would want to invest it in research technology that is easily exportable. And I would assume that geothermal is not, as very few places have similar geothermal properties as Japan.

I do however hope that they realize that diversifying is key to success of renewables.

On the subject of Geothermal causing earthquakes, do a google search for: Geothermal Power Plant Triggers Earthquake in Switzerland

Mind you these quakes were in the M3.4 region at a depth of 5000m , but in a country that estimates that a M6.5 ( like the one last night?) would bring down about 4% of the buildings in the affected area. And I am not sure the results are translatable to Japanese conditions, as they are talking about the quakes being caused by changed underground pressure. I guess this happens in Japan naturally.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Geothermal certainly is not a new concept in Japan. BTW, NHK had a report on it about 2 months ago. Japanese engineers construct geothermal power plants overseas. Their cost is lower than for nuclear power plants and in the long run a lot safer: imagine if a quake destroys one of the former there is no radiation. Yeah, the hot springs are important, but Beppu, a major hot spring resort does have 2 geothermal plants with a capacity of 55 MW each. These plants have been in operation for several decades without any problems, AFAIK. The compromise a hot spring resort needs to make in choosing a geothermal plant is a much easier one than the choice of a nuclear plant.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I was surprised that oceanic current harvesting wasn't mentioned. This is a proven technology and is used where ocean current flow is restricted and concentrated.i.e. the English Channel, the straits between Demark and Sweden and the straits of Gibraltar. The narrow channels in the Inland Sea, the straits between Japan and Korea and the Tsugaru strait between Honshu and Hokkaido make Japan a perfect place for this type of technonogy. The fishers will complain until they are told that they will get a share of the revenues from generated electricity. Many small generators mean units can be taken out of stream for maintainance. This is the system that has been on the Indus River and supplying 40 % of Pakistan's electricity until the flood last years. but that's another story

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The compromise a hot spring resort needs to make in choosing a geothermal plant is a much easier one than the choice of a nuclear plant.

If the geothermal plants came with anything like the same huge subsidies and perks that nuclear plants do, there would be no contest.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Any type of green energy, be it geothermal, wind, ocean currents, what have you, are going to require HUGE subsidies, as these are all money losing propositions. Even if you buy some solar panels for your roof, they won't pay for themselves for about fifteen years. If ANY of these green energy solutions were feasible, then businesses would be building them and making money.

Sure you can have your green energy, but it's not going to be free. You are going to pay much more in taxes, which will sap the Japanese economy even more.

Kan's plan, increasing green energy to 20 percent (where it's 9 percent now) means a more than DOUBLING of current green energy, which means DOUBLE the subsidies that those green energy producing factories are getting.

Higher taxes, higher taxes, and higher taxes.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Allow the people to invest in these green technologies and allow local govs to look at the plans and decide. If people have access to solar panels and knew the costs they would be better informed to buy -same with local Govs/business.

Nobody thought electric/hybrid cars would sell -but now it is a viable business model and the battery packs are being refurbished and used for other uses (home etc).

I have seen solar panels actually on sale now. -Competition is driving the costs lower and people are buying more with the expanding market.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Any type of green energy, be it geothermal, wind, ocean currents, what have you, are going to require HUGE subsidies, as these are all money losing propositions

What kind of subsidies do you think nuclear has been getting?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

What kind of subsidies do you think nuclear has been getting?

Well said. These subsidies now have to be funneled to alternative energy schemes.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Any type of green energy, be it geothermal, wind, ocean currents, what have you, are going to require HUGE subsidies, as these are all money losing propositions

What kind of subsidies do you think nuclear has been getting?

And is still getting, among other things nuclear power plants are not required to get full insurance cover, which is a HUGE subsidy.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Even if you buy some solar panels for your roof, they won't pay for themselves for about fifteen years.

I think this is an age where normal citizens should realize they also have a responsibility, in addition to having a choice, to create a better environment by implementing and using clean energy. They need to be aware they are doing it not just for themselves but also for their own offspring, and society as a whole. You cannot just continue to use up energy to drive your automobiles and air conditioners and complain or be surprised when something unpleasant happens. Please contribute. Installing solar panels, whose prices have been falling over the past decades, is one of the easiest things to do. It won't cost more than your just above average mini van, whatever, and it lasts a whole lot longer.

I don't want to sound righteous, knowing my consumption of energy is not perfect, but our 3.4 kW solar system has survived for 15 years now and provides 50% of our electric power needs. No gas is used and there is also a solar water heater system. I know people in Europe who with a similar set up as mine generate power in excess of their needs, so don't say it can't be done. New housing should mandatory be equipped with solar systems. In the long run it will make a huge difference.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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