Japan’s Fukushima prefecture plans for 100% renewable energy by 2040

In staid opposition to the national government’s push to restart the country’s temporarily shuttered nuclear power plants, Japan’s Fukushima prefecture has opted to pursue a path towards sourcing 100% of its electricity from renewable sources by the year 2040. The prefecture was hit hard by the nuclear reactor meltdown that followed the mega-tsunami which struck Japan’s eastern coast in March 2011, and the local people there are understandably keen to turn to other technologies for their future.

The prefecture already generates over 20% of its electricity from a number of renewable projects, including an in-progress, floating windfarm off the coast, whose output will rise to about 1 gigawatt by the time it is completed in 2020. Japan’s generous feed-in tariff for renewables, introduced 2 years ago, has played a key role in driving uptake of projects like this across the country by making them more attractive as investments.

In particular, the amount of solar energy installed has seen a massive increase since its introduction; with total installed capacity at close to 10GW at the end of 2013–a 5-fold increase over just 2 years ago. In 2013, Japan was the second largest market for solar power in the world. Among the solar projects in the pipeline for Fukushima are a 26.2 megawatt (MW) solar farm on a golf course within the evacuation zone and a 50MW solar plant in the prefecture’s center, Koriyama.

Community-backed & owned solar farms will be at least a small part of the strategy to get the region towards its 100% goal. Referred to as ‘solar sharing‘, community-owned plants would take some of the power out of the hands of incumbent industry players, so to speak. Nuclear power’s popularity has fallen dramatically in Japan since the 2011 disaster, with anti-nuclear demonstrations and movements breaking out across the country. A recent survey revealed that over half the Japanese population would like to see the country’s nuclear fleet phased out over time, with about 1/5 saying nuclear plants should should not be brought back online at all.

Top image via Wikipedia

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