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Japan’s “transition towns” go for renewable energy, not nuclear

flag-japanEnergy transition: no longer why but how

Since the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011, Fujino’s popularity as a transition town has grown. Hide Enomoto, co-founder of the Fujino transition town initiative says people around Japan are realizing just how important it is to switch towards cleaner sources of energy. “The people are no longer asking ‘why do we need an energy transition?,” Enomoto said. “Rather ‘how are we going to do it?”……

 Huge alternative energy potential

If some studies are to be believed, Japan could in future completely turn its back on fossil fuels and meets its entire energy needs through renewable energy by 2050

‘Transition Towns’ lead the way in low-carbon living, DW, 7 May 13   Following the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011, many in Japan are talking about switching to renewable energy for a cleaner future. The “Transition town” of Fujino has already made that a reality……. Following the catastrophe, the Japanese government led by Naoto Kan initially decided to phase out nuclear energy in Japan by 2040. Since summer 2012, all Japanese reactors – with the exception of two – have been taken off the grid. Instead, Tokyo plans to set up the world’s biggest offshore wind park along the Fukushima coast by 2020. The plan foresees installing 143 wind turbines with a total capacity of 1 gigawatts. Construction is expected to begin in July 2013…….

the current government is now backpedaling on plans to phase out nuclear energy.

Taking the initiative

Many Japanese, on the other hand, are losing patience with their government for failing to take the necessary steps to move towards an energy transition. Individual towns and communities are taking matters into their hands by taking steps to cut their reliance on fossil fuels and nuclear energy.

They’re part of the “transition town” initiative. Central to the initiative is the belief that, rather than waiting for governments to find all the answers or for individuals to act on a large enough scale, communities can be a catalyst for the societal redesign required to respond to climate change and prepare for the coming end of cheap oil.

The Transition Town Movement is an international network of grassroots groups that can be traced back to the concept of permaculture. In a nutshell, that means undertaking sustainable economic activity.

But the movement goes beyond that to include a community-centric approach – that means making a community more socially connected and more equitable, resulting in a more fulfilling lifestyle. That’s reflected in the initiative’s name – Transition Towns in Japan identify themselves with the initials “TT,” which also stand for the Japanese words tanoshiku and tsunagaru, meaning “having fun” and “networking.”

The Japanese town of Fujino is a prime example. In 2008, the town’s 10,000 residents set up Japan’s first Transition Town. They launched their own currency – the Yorozuya (meaning “general store” in Japanese) – to strengthen community links and to make them economically independent.

The Yorozuya project began playing a major role in stimulating local networking. It started with 15 members in 2009 and has now grown to include 150 households. Those participating can exchange goods and eat at restaurants using the currency. The network also thrives by targeting local needs, such as providing pet care, weeding vegetable gardens, and picking up children. It further serves to connect those in need with those who can give a hand.

Energy transition: no longer why but how

Since the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011, Fujino’s popularity as a transition town has grown. Hide Enomoto, co-founder of the Fujino transition town initiative says people around Japan are realizing just how important it is to switch towards cleaner sources of energy. “The people are no longer asking ‘why do we need an energy transition?,” Enomoto said. “Rather ‘how are we going to do it?”……

Huge alternative energy potential

If some studies are to be believed, Japan could in future completely turn its back on fossil fuels and meets its entire energy needs through renewable energy by 2050. That’s according to the German-Japanese study ‘”Energy Rich Japan” which conducted an analysis as far back as 2003.

The country certainly has the right weather conditions – the wind along Japan’s 10,000-kilometer coastline could with the help of offshore plants be turned into energy. However, so far Japan only draws 0.4 percent of its energy from wind power.

Besides, the Japanese islands lie along the Pacific Ring of Fire. During test drilling, experts discovered such high temperatures at a depth of two kilometers that they believe Japan could meet a third of its energy needs with geothermal energy.

Japan also has huge untapped solar power potential. With 22 percent higher sun radiation than the global average, experts estimate that installing solar plants on just five percent of the country’s land mass would suffice to meet the country’s entire energy needs.

A mix of all these various energy sources could help Japan cut its reliance on energy imports – turning “transition town” into “transition country.” http://www.dw.de/transition-towns-lead-the-way-in-low-carbon-living/a-16796152

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May 9, 2013 - Posted by | Japan, renewable

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