Fukushima Pledges to be 100% Renewable Energy by 2040

Originally published on ThinkProgress by Guest Contributor Ari Phillips

Image Credit: Fukushima map via Shigenobu AOKI
Image Credit: Fukushima map via Shigenobu AOKI

The province of Fukushima in northeast Japan, devastated nearly three years ago by the earthquake and tsunami that caused a nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, has pledged to go 100 percent renewable by 2040.

The energy will be generated through local community initiatives throughout the province of nearly two million.

Announced at a Community Power Conference held in Fukushima this week, it goes against Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s agenda to reboot nuclear power throughout the country.

“The Japanese government is very much negative,” said Tetsunari Iida, director of the Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies in Japan.

“Local government 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.”

Former Japanese Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa is running for mayor of Tokyo on an anti-nuclear platform.

The February 9 election is seen as a referendum on Abe’s efforts to restart nuclear reactors and on the future of nuclear power in Japan in general.

“Tokyo is shoving nuclear power plants and nuclear waste to other regions, while enjoying the convenience (of electricity) as a big consumer,” Hosokawa said during a late January news conference. “The myth that nuclear power is clean and safe has collapsed. We don’t even have a place to store nuclear waste. Without that, restarting the plants would be a crime against future generations.”

Fukushima currently gets 22 percent of its energy from renewable sources. In November, a 2-megawatt offshore wind turbine started operating about 12 miles off Fukushima’s coast. Two more 7-megawatt turbines are in the planning stages. The Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has said that total offshore wind capacity may reach up to 1,000 megawatts.

“Fukushima is making a stride toward the future step by step,” Yuhei Sato, Governor of Fukushima, said at the turbine’s opening ceremony. “Floating offshore wind is a symbol of such a future.”

A 26-megawatt solar power station also just broke ground in the prefecture. Japan’s solar market is booming and far exceeded solar analysts’ 2013 predictions, in large part due to government incentives such as a feed-in tariff that was passed into law shortly after the Fukushima meltdown. The shuttering of Japan’s 50 nuclear reactors after the incident forced the government to focus on alternative electricity sources.

“There’s still a long way to go in Japan because the official government position is still very pro-nuclear, so it would be naïve to say this is an easy way, that we just need to set an example and other regions will follow,” Stefan Schurig, Director of the Climate and Energy Department of the World Future Council, said at the Community Power Conference in Fukushima.

The debate over the future of nuclear power on a global scale is hardly a two-sided polemic. Nuclear power is still staggeringly expensive, and has not become cheaper over the decades as many expected.

Yet James Hansen, a prominent climatologist advocating for immediate action on climate change and further investment in nuclear power recently told the National Journal, “It seems to me that there are a lot of environmentalists who are beginning to look into the facts and appreciate the potential environmental advantages of intelligent development of nuclear power.”

However in Japan the scars of nuclear catastrophe are still fresh in the public’s mind. A September, 2013 survey found that that 53 percent of Japanese people wanted to see nuclear power phased out gradually, and 23 percent wanted it immediately done with.

The local situation is still unresolved, with nuclear radiation around the Fukushima power plant about eight times government safety guidelines as of mid-January.

Radioactive water leaks from the plant have also been an ongoing issue of concern — both for locals and the international community — with about 300 metric tons of contaminated groundwater seeping into the ocean each day, according to Japan’s government. On Monday the government announced new guidelines for capturing water before it becomes contaminated and flows into the ocean.

The government is also negotiating with the National Federation of Fisheries Co-operative Associations to gain approval to dump groundwater from the Fukushima power plant into the ocean under the assertion that the radioactive contamination would be under the legal limit.

In the meantime, a Renewable Energy Village (REV) with 120 solar panels and plans for wind turbines has sprouted up on the contaminated farmland surrounding the power plant.

This is an example of the type of project renewable energy advocates in the region hope to see more of in the quest toward the goal of 100 percent renewable power by 2040.

Radiation-tainted water from Fukushima is expected to arrive at American shores this year. In December, Nuclear Regulatory Commission chairman Allison Macfarlane said that water would reach U.S. at levels less than 100 times lower than the accepted drinking water threshold. Scientists are prepared to test waters, but are skeptical that dangerous levels of contamination will be found.

“We don’t know if we’re going to find a signal of the radiation,” Matt Edwards, a UT San Diego scientist working on one such project, told RedOrbit.

“And I personally don’t believe it’ll represent a health threat if there is one. But it’s worth asking whether there’s a reason to be concerned about a disaster that occurred on the other side of the planet some time ago.”

This article, Fukushima Pledges To Go 100% Renewable, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

Japan adds 4,000 MW New Solar PV Capacity in 2013

by Nathan

Japan solar power plant
Japan solar power plant

Nearly 4,000 MW (4 GW) of new solar photovoltaic capacity was installed in Japan between April 1st and October 31st 2013, according to a new report released by Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI). To be exact, 3,993 MW of new PV capacity was installed, based on the data compiled by METI’s Agency for Natural Resources and Energy (ANRE).

“Photovoltaic power facilities steadily continue to be introduced, and the total combined capacity of such facilities as of October 31, 2013, reached 5,852,000 kW after the feed-in tariff scheme was introduced,” METI stated in the report.

Japan’s total installed solar PV capacity currently sits (as of October 31st 2013) right around 11.226 GW — so the 3.99 GW of new solar PV capacity represents quite significant growth. Of this new capacity, roughly 870 MW is from residential projects, and the other 3,123 MW is from non-residential systems.

PV Magazine provides more:

From July 1, 2012, to March 31, 2013, Japan’s total PV capacity reached 1,673 MW, with residential making up 969 MW and non-residential 704 MW. Prior to the introduction of Japan’s feed-in tariff program, which went into effect July 1, 2012, combined total solar capacity in the country was at about 5.6 GW.

Japan became the first country in the world to surpass the 1 GW of cumulative PV capacity back in 2004. METI launched a subsidy program for residential PV systems in 1994, according to data from NPD Solarbuzz. Initially, the subsidy covered 50% of the cost of PV systems. As a result, until 2005, Japan had the largest installed PV capacity of any country in the world.

Solar PV deployment in Japan slowed in the mid-2000s, due in part to the country’s ten-year energy plan that was approved in March 2002 and called for an expansion of nuclear generation by approximately 30% by 2011. The plan included the construction of between nine and 12 new nuclear power plants, equivalent to 17.5 GW of new nuclear generating capacity.

Of course, after the Fukushima disaster in 2011, the plans for an expansion of the country’s nuclear capacity were nixed — hence the rapid increase in solar capacity since then.

Repost.Us - Republish This Article

This article, 4,000 MW Of New Solar PV Capacity Added In Japan, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

NathanNathan For the fate of the sons of men and the fate of beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and man has no advantage over the beasts; for all is vanity. – Ecclesiastes 3:19

Honda’s Solar Power Push

by Zachary Shahan.

Honda Fit EV
Honda FIT EV can charge with solar power. Image Credit: Honda

Originally published on Cost of Solar.

Honda (the car company, not the star soccer player) is going solar. Also, thanks to the low cost of solar today and incentives for selling solar power to the grid, the famous Japanese car company is going solar in a big way and will sell surplus electricity to the Japanese grid. (What, you thought Honda was becoming a solar power developer?)

Honda will install 70,000 solar panels (yes, 70 thousand!) at a new test course it is building in the city of Sakura in Tochigi prefecture, Japan.

Join the solar rooftop revolution!

Here are some more details from a Honda news release:

In 2007 Honda initially announced its plan to build a large-scale test course featuring a high-speed circuit with a 4 km long track, but postponed the plan due to the global economic recession that began in 2008. Reflecting recent changes in the business environment surrounding the automobile industry and in the market needs, Honda modified the purpose and scale of the plan and decided to build the new test course (approximately 25 ha in size) which will be utilized for the development of advanced safety technologies.

In addition, Honda will build a solar power generation system with an annual capacity of 10 MW within the same property in Sakura. After installing approximately 70,000 solar panels on an approximately 33 ha lot, Honda is planning to begin sales of the generated electricity in 2015. Moreover, as a part of its effort to conserve the natural environment, Honda is also planning to build a biotope within the property and will welcome members of the local community to enjoy it.

Pretty cool. But don’t be fooled. Honda isn’t going solar in such a big way because it is an environmental saint. It’s going solar in a big way because doing so provides huge financial benefits to the company. It’s the same as with 74% of the homeowners who go solar today. (Ask them… or at least actors pretending to be them.)

Solar power offers one of the best returns on investment (ROI) around. Don’t miss out, go solar today (or at least get a solar quote).

Repost.Us - Republish This Article

This article, Honda’s Solar Power Push, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Zachary Shahan is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy for the past four years or so. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he’s the Network Manager for their parent organization – Important Media – and he’s the Owner/Founder of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to ZacharyShahan.com and click on the relevant buttons.

TEPCO President: Fukushima Was “A Warning To The World”

Originally published on Planetsave by Sandy Dechert

TEPCO workers are using a 91-ton cask to transport nuclear fuel from the damaged secondary containment pool at Reactor Unit 4. (Photo: TEPCO.)
TEPCO workers lower the 91-ton shielded transfer cask in preparation for relocating unused nuclear fuel. Photo courtesy of TEPCO

Today, officials at Tokyo Electric Power Company could breathe a sigh of relief.

Using remote-controlled cranes, workers at Fukushima Daiichi cleared some of the dangerously radioactive uranium fuel rod racks from the upper-story cooling pond of damaged Reactor Unit 4.

You can see TEPCO’s video of parts of the operation here.

Technicians loaded unused fuel assemblies underwater from the unit’s secondary containment into a specially designed steel-walled canister (see photo), which looks like a huge home hot water heater and must be decontaminated every time it is transferred from radioactive water to air. At 1:2

0 this afternoon (Tokyo time), the operators began the process of moving the cask onto the truck that would carry it to a safer storage location at ground level nearby. TEPCO has reported that the transfer has gone smoothly so far. After the fresh fuel rods are removed, the company will tackle the problem of moving the reactor’s spent fuel, which is hotter and more dangerous than fresh fuel.

“TEPCO has worked out individual scenarios to deal with stoppages of pool cooling, water leaks from the pools, a massive earthquake, a fire, and an accident involving the trailer, but not for dealing with a situation in which two or more incidents occur simultaneously. Therefore it must proceed in an extremely careful[ly] manner,” the Japan Times reported earlier today.

TEPCO president acknowledges miscalculations

The president of the utility, Naomi Hirose, told The Guardian this week that:

“What happened at Fukushima was, yes, a warning to the world.” Hirose stated that “We made a lot of excuses to ourselves” and unwarranted assumptions that others had discussed adequate “counter-measures” for large tsunamis.

“We tried to persuade people that nuclear power is 100% safe….But we have to explain, no matter how small a possibility, what if this [safety] barrier is broken? We have to prepare a plan if something happens.… It is easy to say this is almost perfect so we don’t have to worry about it. But we have to keep thinking: what if.…”

International oversight visit

Adequacy of international consultation has been an issue since the incident occurred. Concerns have increased since the revelation of TEPCO’s apparent bravado and inattention early in the process. Although TEPCO has performed nuclear fuel transfers before without incident, this is the first time the company has had to deal with a reactor damaged by earthquake, flooding, and explosions.

Apprehension will be mitigated somewhat when 19 experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency visit the site from November 25 to December 4 to assess the success of this week’s mission and the current state of TEPCO’s efforts to prevent contaminated water from leaking out of multiple storage tanks. The Japanese government requested the visit. Hahn Pil-soo, the IAEA’s director of radiation, transport, and waste safety, will be on the team.

IAEA, the world’s clearinghouse and watchdog for nuclear operations, formed in 1957 as energy firms began installing nuclear plants across the world on a wide scale. Vienna is the agency’s headquarters. IAEA’s goal is to promote safe, secure and peaceful nuclear technologies.

Next step in decommissioning

Japan News describes the second phase of the reactor decommissioning process, which will begin when the Unit 4 work has finished, possibly as early as 2015. The company then needs to tackle the problem of recovering spent fuel from Reactor Units 1-3.

These reactors were online at the time of the magnitude 9 Great East Japan subsea earthquake, tsunami, and explosions that killed more than 18,000 people in March 2011. They present unique challenges because at least some of their fuel melted down, the molten fuel’s location below the reactors is presently unknown, and its chemical composition is likely more toxic because it contains more plutonium and unstable isotopes. The tricky core meltdown work will probably start around 2020.

In a word of caution to the developers of eight proposed British nuclear generating stations and of similar facilities across the globe, TEPCO president Hirose offered the following advice:

“Try to examine all the possibilities, no matter how small they are, and don’t think any single counter-measure is foolproof. Think about all different kinds of small counter-measures, not just one big solution. There’s not one single answer.”

Hirose now feels that Japan will achieve its best electric power results through energy diversification, using oil, gas, and renewables as well as nuclear generation. Before the disaster at Fukushima, Japan had planned to expand nuclear power to supply half the nation’s energy needs.

TEPCO’s official position, stated on its website, is that “Nuclear power generation has excellent long-term prospects for the stable procurement of nuclear fuel and for effectively countering global warming problems.”

Forty percent of the company’s revenues have historically come from nuclear power generation

Presently, all 50 of Japan’s nuclear plants (17 of which are owned by TEPCO) have been shut down. Fukushima Daiichi Units 1-4 are unusable, and the company has just bowed to a government request that the other two reactors (5 and 6) on the site be mothballed.

Many in Japan, from ordinary people to three high former government officials, believe Japan should abandon nuclear power completely.

Uncertainty about nuclear renewal and the high cost of using carbon-based technology to fill in for the power previously generated by nuclear plants (one third of Japan’s electricity) forced the country this week to renege on an earlier promise and greatly lower its climate change goals.

This article, TEPCO President: Fukushima Was “A Warning To The World”, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

Japan Solar PV Industry Reaches 10 GW Milestone

By Joshua S Hill – Special to JBS News

 

New research conducted by NPD Solarbuzz and featured on their blog this past week shows that Japanese solar photovoltaic “PV” installations have now passed 10 GW for cumulative PV capacity, only the fifth country to reach the mark. Of the previous four — Germany, Italy, China, and the US — the latter two only reached the milestone within the past few months, highlighting Japan’s achievement.

Japan Hits 10 GW Milestone

Writing on the Solarbuzz website, NPD Group Vice President Finlay Colville pointed to three landmark high-points along Japan’s solar PV leadership, highlighting not only their recent 10 GW milestone, but also that Japan was the first country to reach the 1 GW of cumulative solar PV back in 2004. This was helped along by;

  • The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) launched a subsidy program for residential PV systems as far back as 1994. Initially, the subsidy covered 50% of the cost of PV systems. The budget for FY 1994 was 2 billion Yen.
  • Until 2005, Japan had the largest installed PV capacity of any country in the world. This early leadership position was achieved through a well-managed set of programs, coupled with attractive market incentives.
  • The early growth of the Japanese PV market was a strong factor in establishing Japanese manufacturing as the first dominant force in the solar PV industry. Manufacturers that benefited from the first phase of government initiatives include several of the companies that are now leaders in the domestic PV industry revival: Sharp, Sanyo and Kyocera.

In the Face of Fukushima

Sadly, another factor that has to be considered in Japan’s recent increase in solar PV installation must be the fallout from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear ‘disaster’ which followed the massive earthquake and subsequent tsunami on March 11, 2011. Corollary evidence might suggest that the launch of the feed-in tariff program in July 2012 which was focused towards fostering the development and installation of renewable energy throughout the country was a direct response to the subsequent shut down of all of Japan’s nuclear reactors in the wake of the disaster. Regardless of the why, however, this feed-in tariff has been instrumental in accelerating the deployment of large-scale renewable technologies, helping the country’s PV market grow rapidly over the past 12 months.

2013 Sees Regular Growth

There is a litany of Japanese solar stories covered here on CleanTechnica to back up these numbers, not the least of which was a report published in March of this year that predicted the number of Japanese solar installations would overtake the US and Germany this year.

As mentioned earlier, IMS Research — a part of IHS — predicted earlier this year that;

“[the] Japanese [PV] market is set to grow by 120 percent in 2013 and install more than 5 gigawatts (GW) of new capacity … with installations expected to exceed 1 GW in the first quarter alone.”

At the end of May, IHS followed up their earlier report, revealing that not only had Japan reached the 1 GW mark for installations in the first quarter, but that they had installed 1.5 GW, “a stunning 270 percent in the first quarter of 2013″ and were on track to become the “world’s largest solar revenue market in 2013″. While the Japanese Agency for Natural Resources and Energy reported that Japan had added 1,240 MW  of solar installations in April and May.

Again borrowing from Colville’s piece on the Solarbuzz website, Japan’s PV industry has benefited greatly from renewed interest in the sector, resulting in;

  • Cumulative solar PV installed in Japan broke through the 10 GW barrier during August 2013 and exceeded 10.5 GW at the end of August.
  • Until the end of 2012, the Japanese PV market had been heavily weighted towards the rooftop segment, with 97% of PV capacity.
  • During the first eight months of 2013, the ground-mount segment has accounted for 27% of new solar PV capacity installed.
  • Over the first three quarters of calendar year 2013, Japan is forecast to install more PV capacity than during the entire three-year period spanning 2010 to 2012.
  • At the end of August 2013, rooftop solar PV installations remain the dominant type of PV installations by project number and by MW volume, with 89% of market share by capacity. The remaining 11% is spread across the ground-mount and off-grid segments.
Cumulative solar PV installed in Japan at the end of August 2013 (shown as 2013 YTD) Image Credit: NPD Solarbuzz Asia Pacific PV Market Quarterly
Cumulative solar PV installed in Japan at the end of August 2013 (shown as 2013 YTD)
Image Credit: NPD Solarbuzz Asia Pacific PV Market Quarterly

Writing more recently, Giles Parkinson from RenewEconomy recently noted that “China, Japan, and the US will compete for domination in the coming years,” while noting that fresh faces are going to be growing up over that same period, with “strong markets in the rest of Asia, Africa and South America … also emerging.”

Looking back over the past few months of the year, we can see just how efficiently the Japanese solar PV industry has been working. Earlier this month it was revealed that Japan was one of only two countries to be home to a competing solar module manufacturer, outside of China (which is dominating the sector). In May it was revealed that by February of this year, Japan had 12.2 GW of new solar installations in the pipeline, including a 400 MW solar power park approved for installation on a remote Japanese island located off the southern coast. Again in May, the Deutsche Bank noted that the Japanese market could reach an annual “run rate” of 7 to 9 GW.

Japanese Solar in the Future

Looking forward, new figures from the Mercom Capital Group reiterate their earlier estimations of a global installation forecast for solar PV of approximately 38 GW by the end of the year, including 8.5 GW installed in China, 7 in Japan, and another 4.5 in the US.

“After years of overcapacity, bankruptcies and record low prices we are now seeing price stabilization, higher capacity utilization rates and a move towards supply-demand equilibrium,” explained Mercom Capital Co-Founder and CEO Raj Prabhu in a blog post. “Market conditions for solar look much better than they did just three months ago and we are reiterating our global installation forecast of ~38 GW for 2013. One of the big overhangs, the China-EU trade case, has been settled, which could have otherwise set off an all-out trade war. This brings some sorely needed certainty to the market.”

A Challenging Future

Both NPD Solarbuzz and Mercom are predicting challenges ahead for Japan, however, with module supply shortages, grid connection issues, and overcapacity concerns. Mercom note that there are reports suggesting “some of the PV project [applications] are getting rejected citing overcapacity and grid stability issues” — adding that the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry have admitted that “some of the facilities approved have not begun construction and they are conducting a survey to find reasons behind the delays including whether there is a shortage of materials.”

All in all, Japan’s solar industry is heading in a good direction, and minus a few bumps along the way, it will be no real surprise to see Japan at the top of solar PV tables for years to come.

This article, Japan Solar PV Industry Reaches 10 GW Milestone, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

I’m a Christian, a nerd, a geek, a liberal left-winger, and believe that we’re pretty quickly directing planet-Earth into hell in a handbasket! I work as Associate Editor for the Important Media Network and write for CleanTechnica and Planetsave. I also write for Fantasy Book Review (.co.uk), Amazing Stories, the Stabley Times and Medium.   I love words with a passion, both creating them and reading them.