Stand-alone solar power to be set-up in Japan refugee centres

As part of the relief effort for the 11 March 2011 Northeastern Japan earthquake and tsunami, Sharp and Shin-Kobe Electric Machinery are planning to assemble and provide 250 solar power arrays with batteries for refugee shelters throughout the region.

If you follow the news then you are doubtless aware that on 11 March 2011 the northeast section (Tohoku Region) of the main island of Japan was devastated by the massive magnitude 9.0 under-sea earthquake off the coast and the 10-metre tsunami that ensued. The earthquake is among the 5 largest on record worldwide, and is the largest that has ever been recorded in this archipelago nation. The tsunami caused the majority of the damage, wiping out entire towns, killing an estimated 20,000 or more people, instigating an ongoing nuclear power plant crisis, and leaving hundreds of thousands homeless and living in temporary refugee centres. In the areas hardest-hit, basic daily necessities such as food and water are hard to come by. To make the already stressful situation even worse, major aftershocks have been incessant since the big one hit, with over 500 of magnitude 4 or greater continuing to rattle nerves across the country.

Electric grid power is either unreliable or non-existent in much of the disaster-afflicted areas, and restoration of supply is not expected in the near future. Additionally, many roads into the region have been closed or rendered unusable, making it difficult or impossible for people to get in contact with family or friends. The solar arrays that the Sharp/Shin-Kobe Machinery joint effort proposes to distribute will make it possible for people to charge mobile phones and other small electronic devices, enabling them to get in contact with friends and loved-ones, and to organise locally.

A press release from Sharp indicates the company’s willingness to use its resources and know-how to help: “Ever since the disaster first struck, Sharp has been considering how its solar power systems can help. And with the support of Shin-Kobe Electric Machinery and other business partners, Sharp was able to quickly assemble a solar power system designed for disaster-stricken areas.”

The press release goes on to say that for the week or so following the earthquake, normal access was impossible due to debris blocking roads or damage to the roads themselves, making even the delivery of aid a slow and difficult process. More recently, however, the situation has improved, and a system has now been set up for the delivery of goods and supplies. The solar systems are set to start being installed on 25 March. The simple systems will consist of a movable rack-mounted solar panel, a battery, and an AC power strip.

We here at Solar Choice would also like to extend our sympathies to the victims and families of those affected by the disaster, and wish the region a speedy recovery through the adverse conditions.

If you are interested in contributing to the relief efforts yourself, a list of not-for-profit organisations operating in the Tohoku region has been compiled in this article from Yahoo news.

© 2010 Solar Choice Pty Ltd

Resources and Links:

How to donate to the Japan Tsunami relief effort, 17 March 2011, Notice: Sharp to Provide Solar Power Systems to Areas Afflicted by the Tohoku-Area Pacific Coast Earthquake, 18 March 2011, Animation: See Japan get battered by 572 earthquakes in 8 days

James Martin II